German Investors Interested in Funding DRC’s Inga III Dam

A delegation of German investors visited Kinshasa this week looking at investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) energy and railway transport sectors.

The business representatives have shown interest in eight potential railway corridors, which are fundamental for the DRC’s economic development, but the big investment target lies in the Inga III Dam, a massive 11000 MW hydropower plant to be built on the Congo river. After years of delays caused by difficulties in securing funding, German and European Union-led financing could finally see the project take off.

This is the second important development for this project in just as many weeks, as earlier this month, the project’s operators signed a merging agreement to form a single consortium in order to accelerate the project’s construction.

Inga III was first announced in 2013 and was due to be managed by two consortiums, one led by Spain’s construction company Actividades de Construcción y Servicios, S.A. (ACS) and the other led by China’s China Three Gorges. In January 2020, ACS announced it would no longer “participate in the execution of the project”, giving no further details to justify the decision. At the time, some observers pointed to disagreements over the distribution of shares in the project as the reason for the fall out.
Ongoing discussions since ACS’ exit resulted in this latest announcement, giving hope to all involved stakeholders that the project is effectively going forward. Securing funding from German and other European partners could further cement the project’s future.

According to the new agreement, the newly merged consortium comprises six Chinese companies led by China Three Gorges, who, together, have a 75% stake in the project. The remaining Spanish company AEE Power Holdings holds a 25% stake.

The Inga III hydroelectric dam will be developed in three phases, with the phase 1 boasting a generation capacity of 4,800MW, phase two increasing it to 7,500MW and phase three reaching 11,050MW of capacity. The whole development has an estimated investment requirement of up to $13,9 billion.

Patrick Kabuya, in charge of communications for the Inga Project Development Agency called the agreement a “giant leap for Inga III”, as the involved companies finally find common grounds in accordance with the exclusive development agreement signed in 2018.

Kabuya further stated that other companies interested in joining the operating team are welcome to submit requests.

Inga III integrates the Grand Inga Hydropower complex, a series of 7 proposed hydropower plants on the Congo river, of which Inga I and II are already operational, that together will have an installed capacity of 40000 megawatts.

The Democratic Republic of Congo boasts Africa’s largest hydropower potential with an estimated production capacity at 100,000 megawatts in total, of which 2,5% has been developed so far.