The World Bank announced on Thursday that a $73.1 million dollar grant has been approved by the African Development Bank to build the Inga 3 Basse Chute and Mid-size Hydropower Development Technical Assistance Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The controversial dam project has the potential to provide up to 40,000 megawatts of electricity to 9 million of Congolese. The hydropower potential of DRC is estimated to be the third largest in the world after China and Russia.
According to the World Bank, “One thousand megawatts of electricity produced by the Inga 3 BC development would be sold to the national utility Societe Nationale d’Electricite Technical Assistance (SNEL) Project, which in turn would sell it to households and small businesses in greater Kinshasa. The increase in power generation corresponds to the projected unmet demand growth in Kinshasa by 2025. This significant additional energy access for households and small businesses could only be financed and developed by combining it with electricity sales to credit-worthy business and other regional users.”
“By being involved in the development of Inga 3 BC from an early stage we can help ensure that its development is done right so it can be a game changer by providing electricity to millions of people and powering commerce and industry, ” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.
While the grant has been approved and there seems to be such great enthusiasm behind the effort there are many skeptics and critics of the Inga III damn. Considering that Inga I and Inga II continue to be under great maintenance and caused the displacement of many Congolese citizens it seems problematic to build another damn that is even bigger than those before. The people of “Camp Kinshasa“ are still displaced over 40 years later with little assistance or aid to compensate them for losing their homes for the sake of “development”.
Many environmentalists are also skeptical as the DRC has the worlds’ second-largest rainforest and the creation of a another damn would require the clearing of more trees for electricity lines. Also by changing the flow of the Congo River the Bundi Valley would be flooded and cause methane emissions that contribute to global warming.
According to All Africa, “By approving Inga 3, the World Bank shows it has not learnt lessons from the bad experience of previous dams on the Congo River despite its claims to the contrary,” according to Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Director of the California-based International Rivers (IR).
The question continues to be whether or not this “development” will actually benefit the Congolese people. History has shown that with Inga I and Inga II not much was given to the people and the sad truth is history often repeats itself. Could this benefit the Democratic Republic of Congo and the continent as a whole?
What are your thoughts?