5 November 2014
The Grand Inga Hydropower project may prove to be South Africa’s solution to the current and future energy challenges if the South African legislature ratifies the treaty on the energy scheme with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The treaty, signed by South Africa and the DRC in October this year, provides the framework for the facilitation of power generation from the Grand Inga project and its delivery to the border between the DRC and Zambia.
On Tuesday, 5 November, South African parliament’s portfolio committee on energy made a recommendation that the legislature make an official decision on the hydropower project to be built on the Inga dams along the Congo River. The multi- phase hydro power station has the potential to generate approximately 40 000MW, sufficient to power half of Africa.
The ratification of the treaty will pave the way for the development of Inga 3, which will provide 2 500 MW of electricity to South Africa and contribute to regional integration, energy security and economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Two existing dams, Inga 1 and 2, have been in operation since 1972 and 1982 respectively, together generating nearly 1 800 MW. The next phase of the Grand Inga project, Inga 3, is expected to cost in the region of US$12-billion and produce around 4 800 MW of electricity.
Subsequent phases, adding up to an eventual total capacity of 40 000 MW, will allow countries in southern Africa, north-east Africa and parts of west Africa to benefit from production at the site. It is envisaged that a new transmission line from the DRC to South Africa will be constructed after Inga 3. The transmission line will most probably go through Zambia and Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Briefing the committee, South African ambassador to the DRC, Ntshikiwane Mashimbye, said the only concern at the moment is the security and financial situation in the DRC. However, in order for the committee to effectively deal with this, an oversight visit to the DRC will suffice. “This is a project that separates us as a generation that wants to change a continent to a different one,’ he said.
Adding, Mashimbye said the project is not about generating electricity for the DRC and its neighbours, but about the industrialisation of Africa. “All conflicts will never come to an end until we have the requisite energy and industrialise the continent,’ said Mashimbye.
Deputy Minister for Energy Thembisile Majola said South Africa is playing an active role to end the current political conflicts in the DRC. “We have lost lives in the DRC. We continue to be present to try and secure that country because we know that the day when the giant rises the continent will also rise,’ she said.
Inga has potential to supply clean energy
South Africa’s cabinet approved the ratification of the treaty on the Grand Inga hydropower project between South Africa and the DRC on 22 August 2014. Announcing the decision on the day, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said the Inga project has the potential to supply clean and affordable imported hydroelectric power to meet the needs of the DRC, South Africa and surrounding countries.
“The project holds the potential to fast-track SADC development, alleviate energy poverty, stimulate economic growth and facilitate infrastructure development.
“This represents one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken on the African continent, and one which will long be a resounding symbol of the rise of Africa and her people,” he said.