Spanish building firm ACS has pulled out of a multibillion-dollar hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a decision that’s likely to further postpone the long-delayed plan once more.
The Inga III project is part of Grand Inga, a series of dams intended to harness as much as 40,000 megawatts of power from a stretch of the Congo River. If completed, it’ll be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest dam.
Confirmation of the Madrid-based company’s withdrawal comes
after President Felix Tshisekedi signaled that he wants a different design than that favored by his predecessor, Joseph Kabila. ACS was a key member of a Spanish consortium that struck an agreement in October 2018 with Kabila and a group of Chinese companies to draw up plans to build and operate the 11,000-megawatt facility.
“ACS Group will not participate in Inga’s project execution,” a company spokesman said by email on Jan. 20.
Tshisekedi, who assumed office a year ago, hasn’t approved
a joint proposal submitted in November 2018 by the Spanish and
Chinese partners for exclusive rights to finance studies and
attract lenders. The president instead says he prefers a smaller
4,800-megawatt plant, an earlier version of the plan that was
recently endorsed by African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina. The bank financed feasibility studies for the smaller dam in 2013.
While Tshisekedi says the dam’s capacity could be increased
to 11,000 megawatts over time, the Chinese and Spanish groups
believe the smaller plant isn’t economically viable.
ACS didn’t provide an explanation for its decision. The
other member of the Spanish consortium is AEE Power Holdings SL,
while the Chinese group is led by China Three Gorges Corp.
BN/La Presse du Congo