The planned Grand Inga hydropower scheme lies more than 2,000km north of South Africa’s borders. But President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi held talks in Kinshasa last week on reviving the project, which has lain dormant for many years. Under the Grand Inga scheme, several new hydropower projects would be constructed near the mouth of the Congo River (adding to two dams built between 1968 and 1982). Power would be exported from the first of these new facilities, known as Inga 3, via one of the world’s longest transmission lines. This would need to pass through Angola, Namibia and Botswana to reach South Africa’s economic heartland in Gauteng province. South Africa has been interested in Grand Inga’s power generating potential since at least the late 1990s, and signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on receiving electricity from the megaproject in 2013. South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan – the key tool for guiding policy planning on energy – assumes the country will be importing 2,500 MW from Inga by 2030. Officials have previously spoken about doubling the offtake to 5,000 MW, equivalent to almost 10% of South Africa’s current generating capacity.
Is the DRC’s Hydro Potential South Africa’s Saving Grace?
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