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13.02.2014 International

World Bank postpones Inga 3 Project talks indefinitely

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The Bank's Board of Directors was scheduled to vote on February 11 on a million grant to prepare for the project.

Opposition from local and international NGOs has been mounting, and civil society groups are now urging the Bank to fundamentally reconsider the Inga 3 project.

Opponents of the project claimed that as proposed, the Inga 3 Dam would generate power for mining companies and the South African market, not for the more than 90 per cent of the DRC population that have no access to electricity.

In a letter to the World Bank, a coalition of 12 Congolese NGOs asked that the needs of the local population be prioritised in a comprehensive assessment of the country's energy needs and options.

If the Inga 3 Dam were to go ahead, they insisted that at least 50 per cent of the power generated by the dam should serve the energy needs of the population.

Danny Singoma, Executive Director of the Congolese NGO, CENADEP, commented: 'The project assumes that the revenues from the power exports will benefit local people.

'These kinds of development have never worked in our country, where there is so much corruption and no accountability to the citizens by those in power.'

The DRC has a large potential of clean local energy sources such as solar and micro-hydropower.

Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Programme Director for International Rivers, said: 'Decentralised energy is the only feasible way of meeting the energy needs of the majority in such a vast country with limited capacity for maintaining huge infrastructure.

'It is time to move quickly to develop these resources, rather than destructive mega-hydro plants.'

In a briefing paper, International Rivers documents how the Environmental Impact Assessment that would be carried out under the proposed World Bank grant falls short of good international practice and the Bank's own guidelines.

Most importantly, the paper noted, the Bank had indicated it was not prepared to assess the cumulative impacts of the 11 dams and six hydropower projects that are planned under the Grand Inga scheme.

'Such short-sighted approaches to dam cascades have caused the death of critical ecosystems by a thousand cuts in the past,' International Rivers said.

Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, added: 'The proposed Inga 3 Dam fails to reduce energy poverty and protect the environment in the DRC. The World Bank should use the project's delay to fundamentally reconsider the value of Inga 3 and prioritise the clean local energy solutions that are more effective at reducing energy poverty.'

The Inga 3 Dam is the first phase of the giant Grand Inga project on the Congo River, the largest hydropower scheme ever undertaken on the planet.

Inga 3 is projected to cost billion and have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts if completed.

The American budget bill that was passed by Congress in January instructed US representatives in multilateral development banks to oppose large hydropower dams such as Inga 3.


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