Wednesday, February 5, 2014

World Bank Indefinitely Postpones Inga 3 Project

[Sorry for cross-posting]

World Bank Indefinitely Postpones Inga 3 Project
International Rivers press release
February 5, 2014

The World Bank has just made a surprise decision to indefinitely
postpone the board discussion of its support for the huge Inga 3 Dam in
the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Bank's board of directors was
scheduled to vote on a $73 million grant to prepare for the project on
February 11. Opposition from local and international NGOs has been
mounting, and civil society groups are now urging the Bank to
fundamentally reconsider the Inga 3 Project.

As proposed, the Inga 3 Dam would generate power for mining companies
and the South African market, not for the more than 90 percent of the
DRC population that has no access to electricity. In a letter to the
World Bank, a coalition of 12 Congolese NGOs asks that the needs of the
local population be prioritized in a comprehensive assessment of the
country's energy needs and options. If the Inga 3 Dam were to go ahead,
they state, at least 50 percent of the power generated by the dam should
serve the energy needs of the population.

Danny Singoma, the Executive Director of the NGO CENADEP, comments: "The
project assumes that the revenues from the power exports will benefit
local people. These kinds of development have never worked in our
country, where there is so much corruption and no accountability to the
citizens by those in power."

The DRC has a large potential of clean local energy sources such as
solar and micro-hydropower. Rudo Sanyanga, the Africa Director for
International Rivers, comments: "Decentralized energy is the only
feasible way of meeting the energy needs of the majority in such a vast
country with limited capacity for maintaining huge infrastructure. It is
time to move quickly to develop these resources, rather than destructive
mega-hydro plants."

In a briefing paper, International Rivers documents how the
Environmental Impact Assessment that would be carried out under the
proposed World Bank grant falls short of good international practice and
the Bank's own guidelines. Most importantly, the Bank has indicated it
is not prepared to assess the cumulative impacts of the 11 dams and 6
hydropower projects that are planned under the Grand Inga scheme. Such
short-sighted approaches to dam cascades have caused the death of
critical ecosystems by a thousand cuts in the past.

Peter Bosshard, the Policy Director of International Rivers, says: "The
proposed Inga 3 Dam fails to reduce energy poverty and protect the
environment in the DRC. The World Bank should use the project's delay to
fundamentally reconsider the value of Inga 3 and prioritize the clean
local energy solutions that are more effective at reducing energy poverty."

The Inga 3 Dam is the first phase of the giant Grand Inga Project on the
Congo River, the largest hydropower scheme ever undertaken on the
planet. Inga 3 is projected to cost $12 billion and have a capacity of
4,800 megawatts if completed. The US budget bill that was passed by
Congress in January instructs US representatives in multilateral
development banks to oppose large hydropower dams such as Inga 3.

Further information:

. Background information on Inga 3:
. Letter from 12 DRC NGOs to the World Bank:
. International Rivers briefing paper on the environmental flaws of Inga

Media contacts:

. Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Director, International Rivers, Pretoria, (m)
+277 6842 3874
. Peter Bosshard, Policy Director, International Rivers, Berkeley, (o)
+1 510 848 1155 x 320, (m) +1 510 213 1438
. Danny Singoma, Executive Director, CENADEP (Centre National d'Appui au
Développement et à la Participation Populaire), Kinshasa, +243 990 023
637, +243 818 451 405 (preferably in French)
. Taty Maniania, Executive Director, Jeunes Volontaires pour
l’Environnement (JVE-DRC), Kinshasa, +243 814 676 480, +243 991 801
640 (preferably in French)

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