The Democratic Republic of Congo has faced years of harsh wars leaving the country deeply stricken by poverty, but now the country moves forward and has its eyes on recovery. A large scale plan to build a hydropower dam capable of producing enough electricity for the entire country has kept hopes high in Congo. If constructed the Inga Three dam in Congo would be Africa’s largest hydropower dam and would produce twice as much electricity as the major Three Gorges dam in China. The country’s multitude of rivers offer enormous potential for hydropower but Congo faces many difficulties if it wants to accomplish its energy goals.
A major setback recently occurred when a large mining company abandoned its plan for operations in Congo, leaving the Inga Three hydro project with little funds and a major customer loss. Congo also lacks the necessary infrastructure to efficiently construct the dam and the projected construction costs have skyrocketed between $8 and $10 billion. Without construction of the hydropower dam, a country two thirds the size of Western Europe will remain in darkness with little access to electricity. For many, the project is seen to be crucial for spurring economic growth and providing sufficient energy for Congo by 2020.
Congo certainly has potential for growth with a mineral-rich southern province of Katanga. However, it lacks the energy sources needed by mining companies to operate effectively and successfully extract the mining resources. Transportation also remains a major problem for Congo, with most roads being unfit for travel. The country’s railways are in poor condition as well, and Congo has had more plane crashes than any country in the world. Therefore, just as the waterways are important for generating power, they are also extremely important for the transportation of goods and services.
If Congo is able to unlock the potential of its waterways, the country may be able to experience growth on a large scale. Congo currently has an astounding 13 percent of the world’s total hydropower potential. With the ability to produce over 5,000 megawatts of electricity annually, the Inga Three dam could produce electricity not only for Congo but also neighboring African countries. Despite setbacks, the government said the dam would be complete and fully operational in 2018. This task will not be an easy one to accomplish but if this project is completed, Congo will certainly start to climb its way out of darkness.