US$ 80 billion dam proposal for DRC

By Richard High14 October 2008

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is looking to develop a US$ 80 billion dam across the Congo River, according to local press reports.

The dam is expected to produce 40000 MW, twice the current capacity of China's Three-Gorges Dam.

According to the report, the DRC will renegotiate an outstanding joint-venture for a smaller project with Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Speaking in the capital Kinshasa, energy minister Salomon Banamuhere, was quoted as saying, "We had an agreement, but our own energy needs have grown."

The DRC government has said it needs 2100 MW to develop the mining industry in the southern province of Katanga, which contains a third of the world's cobalt reserves and 4% of its copper. The country is looking to boost electricity supply to its population and provide 2000 MW to BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, for a proposed aluminium smelter.

The DRC is the world's second-largest river by volume after the Amazon, but only about 6% its population have access to electricity in their homes.

At present it is developing its electricity generation capacity under the Western Power Corridor (WESTCOR) project, which aims to supply energy from two hydroelectric power (HEP) plants - the DRC's INGA III and Angola's Cuanza River - to the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

WESTCOR's members will meet in Kinshasa on Oct. 22 to discuss the proposal, said Mr Banamuhere. Construction is expected to start in 2010.

WESTCOR was formed by five Southern African power utility companies - Botswana Power Corporation, Empressa Nacional de Electricidade, of Angola; Eskom, of South Africa; Nampower, of Namibia; and the Societé Nationale d'Electricité, of the DRC, each of which contributed US$ 100000 as start-up funding.

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