South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo will on Nov. 12 sign an agreement that may lead to the development of what could be the world’s biggest hydropower complex.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila will preside over the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the Grand Inga hydropower project, the South African presidency said in an e-mailed statement today.
“The envisaged hydropower project, with an estimated capacity of 40,000 megawatts with a potential to change the African energy sector, would increase African generation capacity,” the presidency said.
The capacity of the project is equivalent to the total installed generation capacity in South Africa, the continent’s biggest producer of electricity. South Africa needs to boost its sources of energy to keep pace with projected growth in demand, while southern African nations including Namibiaand Zimbabwe are in need of more electricity.
The agreement will allow Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-power utility, and Congo’s Société Nationale d’Électricité, known as Snel, to enter an agreement and a treaty between the countries should be signed within six months, the South African presidency said.
The plans for the pact comes almost two years after talks between Congo, Angola, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to invest $5.2 billion in a 5,000 megawatt hydropower project, known as Inga 3, collapsed. The World Bank has said the Congo River has the potential to generate more than 100,000 megawatts of power.
Eskom has “always believed in the potential of regional hydropower,” Hilary Joffe, a spokeswoman for Eskom, said in an interview.
Congolese Energy Minister Gilbert Tshiongo Tshibinkubula wa Tumba didn’t answer calls to his telephone in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.
China’s Three Gorges hydropower complex is the world’s biggest with a generating capacity of 22,400 megawatts while Brazil’s Itaipu, with a capacity of 14,000 megawatts, is the second largest.