Africa's Chance to Lead
13 September 2012
HydroWorld.com: Stupendous in magnitude, the Grand Inga project envisages 40 GW of hydropower capacity in the Inga valley, some 250 km west of Kinshasa on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Conceiving such a project, which dwarfs even China's Three Gorges, is one thing. And indeed, the first studies on the Grand Inga project were conducted a half century ago. Of course, execution is an entirely different proposition.
Sufficient to power most of Southern and Central Africa and even export capacity to North Africa and Europe, this visionary project has yet to be realized, although some development has taken place. It could achieve continental and even global impact in terms of clean development, but concerns over the significant environmental effects such a project would engender, as well as myriad political, financial and technical challenges, have apparently beset Grand Inga.
This all sounds like a familiar story. That is, it seems, until now.
In late August, the cabinet of South Africa's government approved a draft treaty with DRC to develop an enabling framework for the project, linking DRC and South Africa into the Grand Inga project and allowing the two countries to jointly explore different economically feasible options. The deal also paves the way for South Africa's utility, Eskom, and DRC's Société Nationale d'Électricité (SNEL) to enter into an agreement to facilitate execution of the project.