Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has set aside R200bn ($22bn) for the 40,000MW Grand Inga hydroelectric project, set to be built at the Inga Falls on the Congo River, about 300km from Kinshasa.
The World Bank “tentatively” estimates the cost of the first phase of the project at $40m-$45m. The first phase is for the 4,800MW Inga 3 project.
Various watchdogs have warned that so much money finding it's way into one of the most corrupt governments will end in tears. Not so, says South African Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, who said that the DRC government should be given a chance to prove itself. They must be given the benefit of the doubt...
Easy to say that when it's not your money, hey Ms Peters? It's only the tax payers who'll get shafted if it all goes south, so what's the worry?
She added that the project would be implemented in accordance with the rules and regulations of the DRC, and this would minimise the risk and perception of corruption.
Seriously? You think that running the project according to rules and regulations of the DRC will limit corruption? Take an affirmative action bow Ms Peters - you are officially an idiot - who will no doubt benefit from some of the
How sad that a country like South Africa, which under the Apartheid government could export electricity to most of Africa, today has to rely on electricity from the DRC, and that all the risk of the project is weighted on the South African tax payer. Blacks hardly pay for their electricity as it is, with most of what they use being
Hmmmm.......I just wonder what could possibly go wrong with this project.
ANC + DRC + $22 billion = gone in 30 seconds.
No wonder Ms Peters is so "excited" about this project! I would be too were I a corrupt, unethical, immoral ANC politician.
Hat tip: Clarence W
|South African Energy Minister Dipuo Peters is "excited" about the project where she'll no doubt benefit from some kick-backs......yes, THIS is the SA Energy Minister!|
THERE are concerns about investing billions in taxpayers’ money in a joint infrastructure project between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
Last month, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan set aside R200bn for the 40,000MW Grand Inga hydroelectric project, set to be built at the Inga Falls on the Congo River, about 300km from Kinshasa.
Earlier this month, the two governments finalised a draft treaty on the project.
The World Bank “tentatively” estimates the cost of the first phase of the project — the 4,800MW Inga 3 — at $40m-$45m.
Some observers say this is a lot of money to entrust to a country with a less than shining reputation.
Transparency International’s latest corruption perception index ranked the DRC 160th on a list of 176 countries. It scored 21 on an index where a score of 100 indicates the least corrupt countries and 0 indicates the most corrupt.
In 2011, after a feasibility study on Inga 3 began, African democracy watchdog Idasa called for care to be exercised in funding the project.
“The various foreign investors plying the project with funding could reduce it to a minefield of corruption in a state infamous for state and political manipulation of contracts and tenders,” said Charlotte Johnson, then a researcher with Idasa.
But Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said in an interview with Business Times that she believed the DRC government should be given a chance to prove itself as the project had so many potential benefits for South Africa and the continent, and the DRC had been transparent with her team thus far.
“People must be given the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “If we worked in a transparent manner, we will continue to work in a transparent manner. We must allow ... it is very painful seeing people without electricity.”
Ms Peters said the project would be implemented in accordance with the rules and regulations of the DRC, which she believed would minimise the risk and perception of corruption.
Perhaps providing a further measure of comfort that the project will not degenerate into a corrupt free-for-all is the involvement of the World Bank, which provides finance for capital projects in developing countries.
A spokesman for the bank said that it planned to support the Inga 3 development in collaboration with other development partners such as the African Development Bank. It is helping rehabilitate the Inga 1 and 2 plants, built during Mobutu Sese Seko’s dictatorship and which fell into disrepair during the civil war after his ousting.
“As is customary for all World Bank-financed projects, all project documentation is placed in the public domain and is accessible online,” said the spokesman.
“The World Bank has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption, and we have some of the toughest fiduciary standards of any development agency, including a 24/7 fraud and corruption hotline with appropriate whistle-blower protection.”
Ms Peters, who is spearheading South Africa’s involvement in the project, said the potential benefits were immense. The World Bank estimated Inga 3’s export potential to South Africa at 2,500MW.
The government’s integrated resources plan, signed and published by Ms Peters in the Government Gazette in May 2011, envisaged 6%, or 2,600MW, of the country’s electricity coming from hydro sources by 2030. Inga 3 is expected to be commissioned in about 2020.
“We can buy (the power) in bulk, making it affordable,” said Ms Peters.
Once complete, Grand Inga will generate almost double the power coming from the Three Gorges Dam in China, which now holds bragging rights as the world’s largest hydropower complex with 22,500MW capacity.
This is only a fraction of the DRC’s total hydropower resources, which the World Bank estimates at 100,000MW.
“Those are the riches of the DRC,” said Ms Peters. “They can help extend the tentacles of energy access in Africa.”
She said Grand Inga would satisfy the African Union’s search for catalytic projects, as it had benefits for agriculture, mining and other sectors in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region. Five other African countries outside the region will be connected to the grid.
World Bank estimates suggest the complex could supply energy to as many as 500-million households across the continent.
In 2004, the national power utilities of Botswana, Namibia and Angola jumped at the opportunity to tap into these resources by forming the Westor Power Project, together with Eskom. But this fell by the wayside, with South Africa taking steps to fill the vacuum.
President Jacob Zuma tentatively locked down South Africa’s involvement in the Grand Inga complex with the November 2011 signing of a memorandum of understanding with the DRC, in which it was agreed South Africa would be a potential customer.
Within six months of the memorandum, a draft Grand Inga treaty was drawn up, then approved by the cabinet.
On March 7, negotiation teams from both countries put the final touches to the draft treaty of joint co-operation.
“This is going to be so involved a project that we didn’t want to rush,” said Ms Peters.
Other factors contributing to the length of time included the composition of the teams — with an average of two people from eight South African government departments — and overcoming the language barrier, with the DRC’s official language being French.
Ms Peters said the terms of the final draft treaty addressed how the project would be developed, the phases of the project, the governance processes to be followed, the responsibilities of each partner, the flow of the electricity, and how the electricity would be transmitted from the Inga site to South Africa.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this treaty will be presented to parliament next month as Ms Peters’s department is still busy preparing a cabinet memorandum. The Congolese team will follow the same process, after which the two countries will work on a final treaty.
“Working as the Sadc, and working as Africans, we can keep the lights on cleanly. I’m so excited about this project,” Ms Peters said.