Cape Town - South Africa is talking to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to revive a stalled $8bn to $10bn 5 000 megawatt hydropower project on the Congo River, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.
“We are engaging with the government and department of energy in the DRC so as to make it possible that the initiative that we put on hold can be able to be resuscitated,” Peters told an African energy conference.
Last year, the DRC rejected a proposal by the Western Power Corridor, a joint venture between five southern African governments and power utilities, that would have seen up to 3 000 MW exported to South Africa and another 1 000 MW to neighbouring countries by 2015.
The mammoth Inga hydropower scheme is considered by experts as one of the single largest projects to help provide power as Africa strives to meet rising energy demands that has curtailed economic growth in the continent.
BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL]
, the world’s biggest mining company, said in February 2010 it wanted to build a $3.5bn, 2 500 MW alternative to support its proposed aluminium smelter, documents obtained by Reuters showed last February.
Sub-Saharan Africa needs an extra 7 000 MW of capacity a year to meet the demand of its 800 million people, who currently have access to the same amount of power as Spain, which has a population of 45 million.
Westcor has said Inga 3 showed the potential to supply as much as 30 000 MW. The total potential of the DRC's hydro resources has been quoted previously at as much as 100 000 MW.