To ensure the successful implementation of the Inga III hydroelectric project, on the Congo river, transmission and distribution networks under the leadership of South Africa will require technical expertise in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and locally, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan energy and power systems research analyst, Tilden Hellyer.
“Connecting the Southern African Power Pool through transmission makes it easier to collaborate, strengthen relationships and build revenues,” he said in an analysis of the Inga III project.
Hellyer added that the success of the first phase of the Inga III dam project, Basse Haute, would also open up further opportunities to explore the DRC’s hydroelectric power capacity and its potential to truly become Africa’s energy highway.
With the capacity to generate 4 800 MW of green energy, Basse Haute was planned to start in 2017.
“If the project gathers momentum, it will take six years to complete common infrastructure. Both direct and indirect markets stand to gain,” said Hellyer, noting that the DRC would need to collaborate with several African States, either as offtakers of power or as host countries for transmission lines.
He added that, should the project gain traction, a multitude of opportunities would be presented in operations, maintenance and indirect markets, such as consulting and skills development.
However, Hellyer noted that Inga had already been delayed as the selection of a consortium to build the dam was in an unplanned second round of bidding.
In the analysis, he further outlined that while the cost of Inga III and the associated transmission lines had been budgeted at $14-billion, the amount had been underestimated several times in the past and it was unclear what the true cost might be.