The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) aspires to have the world’s largest hydropower scheme that will have a continent-wide energy footprint. Africa’s mammoth hydropower project, the Grand Inga Dam, which began more than six decades ago, however continues to raise hackles.

In 2014, the DRC signed a treaty with South Africa as its main partner and off-taker for purchasing 2,500MW of electricity once the plant starts evacuating power. The deal also requires South Africa to fund around 5% of the project, which has an estimated price tag of $14 billion.

The main concerns raised are around whether South Africa will even need this power when it comes online (anticipated in 2025), how will the country, whose state-owned utility is currently being crippled by financial woes, manage to cover this burdensome debt, and the impact on citizens who will be forced to pay the over-valued tariff of this imported energy.

As grand as this hydro scheme is, the project has been besieged by governance and corruption challenges since the start. And with its main partner on the tip of Africa still grappling to overcome its own recent power industry scandals, this ‘river’ is unlikely to flow freely.

Source: ESI Africa