The history of developing country investments especially in power generation space is filled with corruption (bi-directional) and extreme climate and ecosystem impacts and – probably even more disastrous – human health, well being and livelihood impacts.
The recent announcement that GE has a new MOU in DRC is troublesome on so many fronts. I get the point that electricity in DRC (and many other areas of sub-shara Africa) is inconsistent, insufficient and intolerably expensive for those living there. But why are we (and more importantly the Congolese) being forced to make a false choice between modern electricity supply and massive ecological and human disruption (and financial bondage via debt)?
Snippet on The Congo River, quote: “The Congo River is the deepest river in the world and the fifth longest, with a flow rate second only to the Amazon’s. The Congo River is home to at least 700 fish species, with 300 documented fish species in its lower section alone. The river empties water and sediment into the Atlantic Ocean, creating “the Congo Plume” – a natural process which is thought to be one of the largest carbon sinks in the world. The river is unique in that it has large rapids and waterfalls very close to the mouth while most rivers have these features upstream. The rapids and waterfalls give the Congo River huge hydropower potential, hence it has been targeted by hydropower developers since the Belgian colonial period.”
The Inga Dams project is worthy of a Harvard Biz School case study on graft, corruption, ecological and human tragedy. As one who has lived in Africa, the power of these big rivers – Congo, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Zambezi and the Nile – are truly amazing for their ecosystems and ability to power human civilization. However, these are highly complicated systems that support life and climate at magnitudes poorly understood imho.
Inga is just a VERY big example of good intentions just going so terribly wrong; and sadly, probably mostly avoided IF … corruption and profit were not the stronger characteristics of those involved. Who gets impacted, the ones it was supposed to help in the beginning. Human and ecological tragedy! Environmental and social justice advocates have long fought against unnecessary tragedy – a post from 2013
What can you do? Learn about it and help in any way you can …
A list of resources
- International Rivers https://www.internationalrivers.org/campaigns/grand-inga-dam-dr-congo
- Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inga_dams
- ELAW https://elaw.org/protecting-communities-and-waterways-congo-weighing-inga-3-hydropower-project
- African Arguments https://africanarguments.org/2018/04/11/worlds-biggest-non-existent-dam-gets-bit-bigger-bit-further-from-existing-congo-grand-inga/
- Mail & Guardian https://mg.co.za/article/2018-09-07-00-the-grand-inga-delusion/
- Southern Times Africa https://southerntimesafrica.com/site/news/us80-billion-grand-inga-dam-power-project-back-on-the-radar