South African energy minister visits DR Congo, finalises Inga Dam project treaty

South African energy minister visits DR Congo, finalises Inga Dam project treaty

The city of Lubumbashi, in the south-east of conflict-hit Democratic Republic of Congo, was last week (7-8 March 2013) the platform of a workshop attended by South African minister of energy Dipuo Peters as she sought to finalise negotiations on the Great Inga Dam power treaty, and check on the feasibility study of the investment, the department of energy said.

The treaty was expected to cover the governance of the project, financial issues, and the rights and obligations of the partners, among others.

South Africa and DRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 12 November 2011 during the visit of President Jacob Zuma to the central African nation.

The department of energy said the MoU was developed after consultations with the departments of International Relations and Coordination, Trade and Industry, National Treasury, Economic Development, and Public Enterprise, and electricity national supplier Eskom.

Experts believe the Inga Dam could light up to two-thirds of the continentif it becomes operational.

But decades of financial mismanagement, dictatorship, negligence and lack of investment have hampered the project from taking off, and therefore stripping the poverty-stricken country of vital electricity needs and economic development.

Electricity is a luxury commodity in DRC, whose populations stay up to three months without it. Power outages in the capital Kinshasa last up to two weeks, and at night many parts of the city are plunged in some sort of ‘eternal’ darkness.

However, now Inga is about to be resuscitated thanks to South Africa, which has pledged billions of rands, coupled with its technical and engineering expertise to make the project work and bear fruit.

In Lubumbashi, Peters and her DRC counterpart put the last touches to the treaty to make it ready to be submitted to their respective governments.

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