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S.Africa’s Zuma to visit DR Congo for hydropower deal

Published on 10/11/2011

South African President Jacob Zuma will visit Kinshasa on Saturday for the signing of a deal aimed at pushing forward efforts to revive the massive hydro-electric Inga Dam project, his office said.

Zuma and Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will preside over the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the Grand Inga Project, which — if completed — would generate 40,000 Megawatts of electricity.

That would be nearly equivalent to South Africa’s current electricity production, which is by far the biggest in the region.

“This will enhance … access to clean and efficient energy across the continent and contribute significantly towards a low carbon economy and economic development,” the presidency said in a statement.

Energy ministers from both nations will sign the deal, which will pave the way for talks on a treaty to implement the project, it said, calling for the treaty to be completed within six months.

The agreement Saturday will also pave the way for South Africa’s Eskom and the DR Congo’s state utility SNEL to make a deal on executing the project.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has discussed reviving the Inga complex for the last decade but with energy needs growing across the region, interest has again heightened.

Power plants would need be rehabilitated and massive new stations built on the powerful Inga falls, which lie in a narrow strip of DRC territory through which the Congo River runs down to the Atlantic coast.

Studies have said modernised power stations at Inga would be able to generate enough electricity to supply all of southern Africa.