31 July 2012 – Finchannel.com reports that the World Bank has approved additional financing of an US$201.5 million International Development Association grant to expand transmission capacity to better serve the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) domestic power demand and to support regional power market integration in southern Africa.
The Southern African Power Market Project (SAPMP) will increase the availability and reliability of low cost, environmentally friendly electric energy in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), as well as support further integration and trade between SAPP countries.
The SAPP connects the power systems of twelve countries, including ten countries of the southern Africa sub-region (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe) and Tanzania and DRC. Nine of these are operating members, namely linked to the interconnected grid that carries about 97% of the energy produced in SAPP.
DRC has enormous hydropower potential. The 4,320 km long Congo River accounts for some 38% of the continent’s discharge into the oceans and the Inga rapids on the river rank is the greatest source of hydroelectric potential. Today, however, this remains mostly untapped with serious household electricity access and development implications. The lack of sufficient power generation, transmission and distribution capacity means that the vast majority of DRC’s population and its economy are under-served.
"Ensuring reliable access to competitively priced electricity is critical to employment growth, including for women, and to reduce poverty rates on a more broad and diversified basis," Manuel Berlengiero, task team leader for the project, says.
This additional financing will mainly be used for the rehabilitation of the 2,300 km long transmission line connecting the Inga site to Zambia. According to the World Bank, the project is consistent with the current Country Assistance Strategy for DRC, the Bank’s Africa strategy, the Regional Integration Assistance Strategy, and the 2010 and 2011 World Development Reports (WDR).