Congo says $14 billion Inga dam on track despite disagreements

Niari river, Congo. Stock image.

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains committed to building a $14 billion dam on the Congo River, even as the project is bogged down in disagreements between its developers, according to the government agency overseeing the project.

The Inga III dam would be the biggest hydroelectric power station on Africa’s second-longest river

Congo envisages an 11,050-megawatt facility that can export 5,000 megawatts to South Africa, the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, which falls under the presidency, said in a statement. Mining companies in Congo would get about 3,000 megawatts, and the national electricity company the remaining 3,000.

The Inga III dam would be the biggest hydroelectric power station on Africa’s second-longest river. After Congo asked two groups of developers — one Chinese, one Spanish — to submit a joint proposal last year, talks between the partners have broken down over “serious differences” regarding the development and shareholding of the project, China Three Gorges Corp., the main company in the Chinese consortium, said in a Sept. 20 letter.

A week-long series of meetings between the partners in March ended without a deal, and China Three Gorges said it didn’t see the need for further talks.

Patrick Kabuya, head of communications for the government agency known as ADPI, said the project would proceed. “Negotiations are continuing with all sides,” he said in an interview in Kinshasa, the capital.

A conference hosted by Congo’s presidency in August proposed scaling back the facility to a previous 4,800-megawatt version — a design the Chinese and Spanish groups believe isn’t economically viable.

(By Michael J. Kavanagh and William Clowes)

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