World biggest hydroelectric dam planned for Africa

DRC - Work on the world's biggest hydroelectric dam will start in October 2015 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a statement said in Paris after talks between DR Congo and international officials.

The meeting on the proposed Inga dam on the Congo river also involved multilateral lending institutions. A statement released late Saturday said the "foundation stone will be laid in October 2015."

"With a production of 40,000 megawatts, the Grand Inga project will eventually provide electricity to half the African continent," it said.

This is less than half of the DR Congo's total hydropower resources, which the World Bank estimates at 100,000 megawatts.

World Bank estimates suggest that if completed and running at full capacity, the complex could provide energy to up to 500 million African households.

The first phase of the project, Inga 3 Basse Chute, will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts.

The Paris meeting follows a deal signed on May 7 between South Africa and DR Congo for cooperation in the energy sector and for South Africa to buy some of the electricity produced.

Plants would need to be rehabilitated and massive new stations built on the powerful Inga falls, which lie in a narrow strip of DR Congo territory through which the Congo River runs down to the Atlantic coast.

Three consortiums are bidding to clinch the contract for the project: China's Sinohydro and Three Gorges Corporation; Spain's Actividades de Construccion y Servicios (ACS), Eurofinsa and AEE; and South Korean firms Daewoo and Posco with SNC Lavalin of Canada.

Three Gorges Dam in China is currently the world's largest hydropower complex, with a capacity of 22,500 megawatts.

- Sapa

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