27 May 2013 – Plans to develop the US$12 billion Inga III project were announced during May 2013, with South Africa having committed to buy 2,500 MW of the power to be produced by the potential 4,800 MW Inga III scheme. The project, if it does eventuate, will add to the existing Inga 1 and 2 hydroelectric schemes which have a capacity of some 300 MW and 1,400 MW respectively.
Should Inga III go ahead according to plan, it will pave the way to further development of Inga’s estimated 40,000 MW capacity. The DRC government says that the advantage of developing hydropower on the Congo River, is that it would not require massive relocation of people, nor block the river and result in significant environmental consequences. It has always been seen as one of Africa’s biggest unexploited lowest cost long term energy sources, and inevitably in time it will be developed.
The key to the go ahead of Inga III is sourcing of finance, and the African Development Bank, World Bank, French Development Agency, European Investment Bank and Development Bank of South Africa have all shown interest. No developer has yet been chosen to undertake the project. The African Development Bank has been involved in the project since 2009 and is financing the base studies and consultants.
According to the DRC government, three consortia are competing to be the one to undertake the Inga III project. These are Sinohydro and Three Gorges Corporation from China, Actividades de Construccion y Servicios, Eurofinsa and AEE from Spain; and the Daewoo-Posco-SNC Lavalin consortium from Korea and Canada.
"The question of financing is a major issue in the selection process," Hela Cheikhrouhou, director for energy environment and climate change at the African Development Bank, says. "It is the public-private partnership financing solutions which will be vital for the success of the project."