SA, DRC in talks on reviving hydropower project

South Africa is talking to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to revive a stalled multibillion-dollar, 5 000MW hydro power project on the Congo River, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.

Last year, the DRC rejected a proposal by the Western Power Corridor (Westcor), a joint venture between five Southern African governments and power utilities, that would have led to exports of up to 3 000MW to South Africa and another 1 000MW to neighbouring countries by 2015.

“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 is able to be resuscitated,” Peters told an African energy conference.

Mammoth hydropower scheme
The mammoth Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River is considered by experts as one of the single largest projects to help provide power as Africa strives to meet rising energy demands.

BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, said in February 2010 it wanted to build a $3,5-billion, 2 500MW alternative to support its proposed aluminium smelter, documents obtained by Reuters showed last February.

Sub-Saharan Africa needs an extra 7 000MW 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. — Reuters

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