ODM leader Raila Odinga leaves for two-day visit to DRC

ODM leader Raila Odinga leaves for two-day visit to DRC

ODM leader Raila Odinga left the country on Wednesday morning for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A statement from his Spokesperson Denis Onyango said Mr. Odinga will in the DRC for two days.

“Mr. Odinga will have a meeting with President Felix Tshisekedi to review progress on the Grand Inga Hydropower project,” the statement reads.

The meeting between the two leaders is said to be as a result of a high-level virtual multinational and multi-sector forum on the Grand Inga held last June.

Mr. Odinga is visiting the DRC in his capacity as the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in the continent.

The former Prime Minister is expected to rally political support for the Inga Hydropower as a continental project.

He is also seeking to boost expressions of interest by multinational corporations, potential off-take countries and different power pools for the purchase of the energy to be produced.

The ODM leader is expected to return to Kenya over the weekend.

Red Tape

On his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said he is committed to working with African leaders to make the Grand Inga Hydropower project continental.

In July this year, the DRC decided to more than double the size of its planned Inga 3 hydroelectric plant to make it more economical, after the $14 billion (Ksh.1.5trillion) project was hit by financing problems.

Inga 3 is part of a $50 billion-$80 billion project to expand hydroelectric dams along the Congo River.

However, the project has repeatedly been delayed by red tape and disagreements between Congo and its partners on the project.

A consortium led by China Three Gorges Corporation and another consortium that includes Spain’s ACS (Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA) have been vying to develop the project.They were to submit a joint bid on the expanded project in September.

Bruno Kapandji, director of the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, said the plant would be built to produce between 10,000 and 12,000 megawatts of power, more than double the originally planned capacity of 4,800 MW.

WB suspended funding

Increased capacity would help meet rising power demand and bring down costs, he said, although he did not say how much the expanded project would cost.

“The Chinese consortium, the Spanish-led ProInga consortium and civil society groups all seemed to agree that the 4.8 GW plan wouldn’t be economically feasible. So the ProInga team came up with a radically different design,” said Elisabeth Caesens, an Open Society Fellow researching hydro power in Congo.

The original $14 billion (Ksh.1.5trillion) project struggled to attract financing and the World Bank last year suspended funding after the president’s office took control of the project, raising transparency concerns at the Bank.

The plant is projected to provide power for South Africa as well as mines and other consumers in Congo.

However, campaign group International Rivers said last month that Inga 3 would incur massive debts and that the plant would deliver little to no electricity to consumers inside Congo because of transmission losses and because production would not meet its target.

Additional report from Reuters