The World Bank has today approved a US$73.1M grant for development of the Inga 3 hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The funding will be used to support DRC with technical assistance for preparation of the project, and will help establish an autonomous and transparent Inga Development Authority, which will follow best international practice in selecting the private concessionaire and negotiating power purchase agreements, the World Bank said. The project will also finance technical, environmental, and social studies to develop the Inga 3 BC and selected mid-size hydropower projects sustainably.

“Inga 3 BC is undoubtedly the most transformative project for Africa in the 21st century. It is one of the strategic pillars of development for the DRC, that needs energy to expand growth and reduce poverty in a sustainable way," said H.E. Matata Ponyo Mapon, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. "The World Bank Group’s involvement in this project reinforces its mission to fight poverty, and its ongoing commitment to help the Congolese government in its goal to move the country along the path to a strong development future."

Inga 3 is the first part of the 40,000MW Grand Inga project on the Congo River. The Inga 3 development would divert about one sixth of the flow of the Congo River into the Bundi Valley. A dam on the Bundi River would create a 15.5km2 reservoir. Inga 3 does not include a dam on the Congo River itself. A preliminary environmental and social assessment concluded that the Inga 3 development has a smaller footprint compared to hydropower projects of the same capacity. The land area to be flooded per megawatt of electricity generated will be among the smallest in the world, said the Bank.

As part of the project, 1000MW of electricity produced is to be sold to the national utility SNEL, which in turn would sell it to households and small businesses in greater Kinshasa. A further 1300MW is expected to be sold to mining companies in DRC’s Katanga Province and an additional 2500MW would be sold to South Africa. At the same time, the mid-size hydropower projects would help to increase energy access for people living in the rest of DRC.

“By being involved in the development of Inga 3 BC from an early stage we can help ensure that its development is done right so it can be a game changer by providing electricity to millions of people and powering commerce and industry, " said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. "Supporting transformative projects that expand people’s access to electricity is central to achieving the World Bank Group’s twin goals of helping to end extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity."

The TA project does not include any construction or operational activities and no decision has been taken on whether the World Bank Group will support the eventual construction of Inga 3 BC. The TA project will finance a number of environmental and social assessments to shape the development of Inga 3 BC, including a cumulative impact assessment.

Today’s grant funding of US$73.1 million is provided by the International Development Association (IDA). The technical assistance project combines US$33.4 million in financing from the African Development Bank, with the latest grant from the World Bank Group, for a total of US$106.5 million.