Within the last ten years the World Bank has invested an estimated US$550 million annually in hydro projects alongside the African Development Bank’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), prioritising investment into nine key projects within strategic African regions.

Included in the nine key priority projects by PIDA, are the world’s largest hydro schemes, the Grand Inga and Inga III (43.5 MW combined) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which have always been a little controversial.

The minister of water resources and electricity of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bruno Kapandji Kalala has stated that, “Inga III project is moving forward; signing a partnership agreement with South Africa last year was one of its initial stages of development. The Inga III development will generate 4,200 MW, being built onto one of the world’s largest waterfalls, Inga Falls, where the Congo River drops almost a hundred metres and flows at an enormous speed of 43 cubic metres per second.”

Minister Kapandji Kalala is scheduled to present further insights into the current developments of the Grand Inga and Inga III at the Clean Power Africa conference on 13 May 2014 in Cape Town.

Large scale hydro schemes in Africa are being criticised for their alleged inefficiency in being a clean power source and a renewable option. According to an online article published by Yale, former Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, defended the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6,000 MW) project against Western criticism in 2011 by saying, “We want our people to have a modern life and won’t allow them to be a case study of ancient living for scientists and researchers.” The article further adds that critics feel that giant hydro schemes are the wrong kind of development for a largely rural continent.

“A large scale hydro plant requires significant civil works, investments, which sometimes strain the realisation of the project. On the other hand, with mini-micro-small hydro schemes, such configurations are not financially intense, have a short duration, less than two years, are environmentally friendly, with minor infrastructural needs and social commitment” says Italian power solution company Marelli Motori, technical director, Gianluca Stanic.