African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka said that the financial institution would consider stumping up further funding to South African power utility Eskom, and that there was "no doubt" that the Grand Inga hydropower project would happen "soon".
"What's important is South Africa, as the regional powerhouse, must have energy for its own economy - for its mining sector - but also to feed into the power pools of the region. If South Africa doesn't have enough power, it is [also] Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Namibia," he said on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in Montreal.
The Grand Inga power station in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will have a total capacity of 39 000 MW, and it has to be equipped progressively with 52 generators of 750 MW each.
It is run by Westcor, a joint-venture project of the national power firms of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, which plan to build a third power plant at Inga, on the Congo river, to supply a new power highway, stretching south through Angola and Namibia to link with the existing Southern African power grid in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
Environmental and advocacy groups warn that Grand Inga could bypass those who need it most and ignore the local people by leaving them in the dark about project plans. In April 2008, the World Energy Council, which organized a conference for financiers and African politicians in London to discuss plans of how to finance the $80 billion Grand Inga Project, failed to invite Congolese civil society and communities living around the dam area, leaving no voice to defend their interests.
8000 plus villagers face the possibility of displacement, despite claims by the WEC that the Grand Inga project will require no resettlement. Villagers living near the dam site are left to wonder how they will be impacted by the potential project and whether their rights will be protected. Social and environmental impacts with Inga 1 and 2 still remain unresolved, with, among other issues, displaced communities yet to be compensated for their resettlement. The good management of any further development at Inga would be impossible without the resolution of long standing issues with the local communities.
The 94 percent of people in the DRC who do not have electricity are unlikely to benefit from the dam, states Terri Hathaway, of International Rivers. This is because Grand Inga's financial support depends on exporting its electricity to existing mining, industrialized and urban centers in Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria even as far away as Europe.