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Mines will benefit from Congo River power project

Sketch of a
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Nairobi, Kenya — MININGREVIEW.COM — 27 June 2008 – A joint venture company involving five Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries claims that one of its major projects on the Congo River will herald an economic renaissance in Africa, and says a main beneficiary will be the mining industry.
Reporting from here, Reuters quoted Western Power Corridor (Westcor) chief executive Pat Naidoo as saying that thousands of megawatts of additional electricity would go to the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the Inga 3 project’s location – during the first phase from 2010. He added that at later stages, the project would also benefit Angola, Namibia and Botswana, and finally South Africa by 2015.

“It will bring the start of an economic renaissance, and with it will come jobs and factories. Inga 3 is going to generate 4 300 MW initially, but there are options to increase its capacity to almost 12 000 MW,” Naidoo told Reuters.

“The first power emanating from the station will be fed into the DRC,” he continued. “First supply is scheduled to go to BHP Billiton’s aluminium smelters planned for the area.”

Reuters reports that Westcor is a joint project of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Angola and the DRC., with each country having a 20% shareholding. Their energy ministers will oversee the project, and their respective state power companies – Eskom, NamPower, Botswana Power Company, ENE, and SNEL – will jointly execute it.

The project – launched in 2003 – will cost US$5 billion (R40 billion) in infrastructure, generation and transmission.

Reuters quotes experts as saying that demand for electricity in many African countries outstrips production capacity. They estimate that the continent will need to invest US$560 billion (R4 500 billion) by 2030 to generate a required 260 000 MW.