Watchdog groups here are warning that a deal has been struck that would see Chinese investors fund a massive, contentious dam on the
Discussions around the Inga III dam proposal, in the
On Tuesday, the bank's board of directors were to have voted on an initial
Now, civil society groups are reporting that the project may be going forward instead under the
"Handing the project over to a private investor will make it even less likely the country's poor people would benefit from the project,"
"The IFC deal was arranged behind closed doors without any accountability to the DRC parliament, the
Citing multiple sources within the bank, Bosshard says the decision to change the Inga III funding modality appears to have been made between high-level officials from the
As currently envisioned, the Inga III dam would be the first in a series of hydroelectric installations along the
The full project could provide up to 40,000 megawatts of electricity, a power potential that has been eyed hungrily by the rest of the continent for decades. While DRC's chaotic governance has stymied forward progress on the project for years, the Grand Inga vision received an important boost last year when the South African government agreed to purchase a substantial amount of power produced by Inga III.
"There is little indication that the dam development schemes underway would address the issue of access to electricity for the population at-large; industrial users stand to be the primary beneficiaries,"
"Only 10 percent of Congo's population has access to electricity and the situation is even worse for rural population, where only 1 percent has access to electricity. For a country like the DRC that is endowed with a plethora of alternative energy options, smaller-scale renewable energy technologies would be the best way forward."
Carney and others are calling for a cumulative assessment of the Grand Inga scheme, to include study of all social and environmental impacts. Indeed, these have been longstanding concerns, but now some development advocates worry that greater private sector involvement in the Inga III project will further exacerbate such issues.
'Out of the window'
"We have questions about whether the scheme can deliver any development at all in the hands of the private sector,"
"For good or bad, if this project belongs to the Congolese government, there's at least some hope to expand electricity access in the country. That would go out the window if we're talking about a purely private sector project."
As the Inga III project picked up momentum in recent months, USAID too expressed its interest in the proposal. The agency's administrator,
Would be interesting
Although USAID was unable to comment for this story by deadline, any involvement by the agency in brokering a deal with the IFC would be interesting. Just last month, the
The new provisions, contained in a huge appropriations bill funding the federal government, impact both on bilateral US funding through agencies such as USAID, as well as on the significant contributions that
"Under the [appropriations] language,
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