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IRN’s Grand Inga Campaign
If built, Grand Inga would be the largest hydropower scheme in the world, in the midst of one of the most volatile places on earth.

The world’s largest hydropower scheme, known as Grand Inga, could become a reality in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of Africa’s most politically volatile and corruption-plagued countries. But with a price tag of US $50 billion, concerns are growing that foreign and industrial interests will gain vast economic benefits from this mega-project, taking attention away from the development needs of Africa’s poor majority. Despite its priority position and high profile, very little about the project has been revealed, and virtually no engagement of civil society has been undertaken.

Plans to build Grand Inga are largely being driven by Eskom of South Africa, the continent’s biggest power company. (Read Eskom’s Expanding Empire.) The project is part of the greater vision to develop a power grid across southern Africa that will spur Africa’s industrial economic development. Grand Inga is a priority project of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

The Grand Inga project would produce 39,000MW of electricity, over twice the generation of the infamous Three Gorges Dam in China. The first development phase will be the Inga 3 dam (3,500 MW), considered a stepping stone to Grand Inga. In addition to Grand Inga, an estimated $550 million rehabilitation of the existing Inga I and Inga II dams is planned. Poor maintenance during DRC’s civil war left the two dams heavily silted and operating at only about 30% of capacity.

In October 2004, the governments and utility companies of five African countries -- South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Namibia and DRC -- formed the Western Corridor Project (Westcor), which aims to develop Inga 3, Grand Inga. The project is geared towards fulfilling projected energy needs in these five countries, as well as being used to attract energy-intensive industries. Westcor also anticipates exporting significant amounts of electricity to other African regions, and possibly as far as to Europe.

Background Reading

Maps & Photos

Grand Inga Site, Satellite View Grand Inga Site, Flyover View

latest additions

IRN and Congolese NGOs Ask World Bank to Address Legacy in Inga Rehab
IRN and Congolese civil society organizations raised concerns to the World Bank about its proposed funding for rehabilitation of the Inga 1 and 2 dams. NGOs called on the World Bank Board of Directors to address the social and environmental legacy of the dams and to improve fiscal transparency in DR Congo before World Bank funding goes forward. Read a letter from Congolese NGOs to the World Bank (French only). Read IRN’s letter to the World Bank (En français).
Grand Inga Dam: Prestige, Not Poverty Reduction
The World Energy Council is hosting a two-day meeting on implementing the Grand Inga scheme, boasting that Grand Inga’s electricity will reach millions of poor Africans. IRN calls out the Council’s mis-directed publicity, noting that Grand Inga is a prestige project that will not reduce poverty but instead foster corruption.