The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, signed a project services agreement with the Government of the Republic of Congo to assess the feasibility of the Sounda power project.
IFC will carry out studies that assess the potential for a hydropower project with strong environmental and social safeguards at the Sounda Gorge on the Kouilou river. The project is important for addressing the significant power shortages affecting the nation’s public services, families, and businesses.
Only about a third of Congo’s population has access to electricity. Overcoming this gap is one of the country’s main development goals. The Sounda project has the potential to make a significant contribution to increasing power by providing a renewable source of low cost electricity.
The assessment will consider a range of scenarios for establishing a hydro dam and power plant at Sounda Gorge. This will include a detailed engineering, environmental, social, and market studies, and a legal analysis. This agreement with the government ensures that IFC’s due diligence will be carried out in accordance with IFC’s Performance Standards.
‘The development of this new source of reliable, and renewable, energy is a priority for the Government of the Republic of Congo. It will encourage new investment and contribute to filling energy needs that accelerate social and economic development,’ said Jean-Jacques Bouya, the Congolese Minister of Spatial Planning.
‘IFC’s agreement with the Republic of Congo is an important first step in assessing the viability of the Sounda hydropower project,’ said Jean Philippe Prosper, Vice President for IFC Global Client Services. ‘We have agreed with the government to assess the potential of the project to deliver significant long-term developmental outcomes, while minimising environmental or social impacts.’
IFC will carry out the studies over the next 18 months, providing critical information to help the government determine the most appropriate size for the project based on environmental and social considerations and the amount of electricity that can be absorbed by off-takers. IFC will consider options for developing the project, including through public procurement and public-private partnerships.
IFC is committed to playing a larger role in the Republic of Congo. During a visit to Brazzaville earlier this year, Prosper explored other potential partnership opportunities between IFC and the Republic of Congo. He met with the President Denis Sassou Nguesso to discuss government priorities, and with business leaders to discuss investor interests.