NGO International Rivers calls on SA not to support Grand Inga scheme

23rd February 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

International rivers and river communities rights nongovernmental organisation International Rivers has called on South Africa to withdraw its agreement to offtake electricity from the Inga 3 hydropower project being built in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

South Africa continues to uphold its commitment to procure power from the delayed Inga 3 hydropower dam, but the power imported from Inga is expected to cost R175-million a year more than domestic power generation, the NGO avers.

South Africa signed the Grand Inga Treaty with the DRC, which obliges South Africa to fund the construction of the transmission lines that will carry power from Inga to South Africa, in 2013. The best available estimates indicate that this construction will cost South Africa upwards of $4-billion – or R58-billion, states the NGO.

"Pursuing Inga 3 will be much more expensive for South Africa compared with domestic wind and solar generation. South Africa simply does not have R58-billion spare to fund a pipe-dream of the DRC government," says International Rivers Africa programme director and spokesperson Siziwe Mota.

Inga 3 is the third phase of the Grand Inga project to build the world’s largest hydropower dam across the Congo river. The project was initially planned to produce 4 800 MW of power, with South Africa procuring 2 500 MW of this power.

"It is of the utmost importance that government untangle South Africa from Inga 3. South Africans also deserve a transparent accounting of the costs of Inga 3 and what this will mean for jobs in the local renewable energy sector, and in local skills development," Mota says.