A file photo shows the Inga dam in the Congo. Picture: REUTERS
A file photo shows the Inga dam in the Congo. Picture: REUTERS

Kinshasa — The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to start work in 2018 on the frequently delayed Inga 3 hydropower project, after receiving a joint bid from two previously competing groups of investors.

A treaty signed in 2013 provided for the Inga 3 plant to export 2,500MW of the 4,800MW of the power produced to SA. About 1,300MW is expected to go to the DRC mining sector while the remaining 1,000MW will go towards meeting domestic demand.

Only 15% of the DRC’s population has access to electricity.

The plant would form part of a larger Grand Inga hydropower complex spanning the Congo River and produce as much as 50,000MW when complete.

One group led by China Three Gorges Corporation and another including Actividades de Construccion y Servicios of Spain submitted a joint bid on June 6 for the $13.9bn project, Bruno Kapandji, director of the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, said on Wednesday.

Collaboration contract

"Our aim is to start Inga this year," he said in Lubumbashi.

"The two consortia have given us a document in which they committed to creating a single consortium. We are in the process of preparing and negotiating the exclusive collaboration contract, which will allow the single candidate to go to the market to find the financing."

Africa’s biggest copper producer and the world’s largest source of cobalt has been considering building Inga 3 for more than a decade to tackle a power shortage that has curbed growth in the mining industry.

The project has been deferred a number of times for a number of reasons. Chief among these were the issues of funding and governance.

In July 2016 the World Bank suspended financing to the Inga3 project following the government’s decision to take the project in a different direction to that agreed between the World Bank and the government in 2014.