PRESS RELEASE: WoMin African Alliance, International Rivers and Communities Call on Parliament to Stop Funding for the DRC’s Grand Inga Dam Project

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 26 November 2019

DATE: Friday, 29th November 2019 from 9am to 1pm (exact time unknown at present)

VENUE: SA Parliament, Cape Town inside at Appropriations Committees Public Hearings and demonstration outside Parliament

Civil society and community groups are frustrated at continued government support and funding towards the controversial Grand Inga Project and will be visiting Parliament on Friday, 29th November to say so.

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are almost 3500 kilometres apart. But the two countries have ambitious plans – that is for the DRC to supply power to South Africa through a proposed hydroelectric dam called the Grand Inga Dam Project. Grand Inga, should it even go ahead, is expected to come online by 2030. The project has been on the drawing board for more than two decades now, with the government of the DRC shifting goalposts and vacillating between a number of potential power purchasers says International Rivers' Rudo Sanyanga. 

Affordability, poor governance and reliability are perhaps the biggest and most controversial of the issues plaguing the Grand Inga project. As part of the agreement, South Africa has signed up to build the transmission lines which will run all the way from DRC, across at least two countries, at a conservative cost of US$4 billion (almost R60bn). This is at a time when SA can least afford it! Eskom has indebted the country to over R450 billion, with Treasury having to regularly bail it out. It will be Eskom incurring the debt of Inga again and passing it over to Treasury as it stands as contingent liability.

WoMin and International Rivers visited Parliament recently after the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement was delivered by Treasury Minister Tito Mboweni on 30th October. At the finance committees’ public hearing, the groups cautioned Parliament to scrutinize and oversee executive action on the Grand Inga project, particularly to ensure that a South African feasibility study and risk assessment must be done before government commits any funds to the project.

After admitting that he was “embarrassed” the matter had not been to Parliament before this, the Finance Committees’ chair, Yunus Carriem passed the matter over to the Energy Committee. The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy was then summoned to make a briefing on the matter at the Energy Committee meeting on the 19th November. “Unfortunately, and in a stroke of flippancy and denial, the Ministry reported that there was NO RISK to South Africa and that SA will only be a buyer of the electricity. The Ministry is not reflecting on our important message and that’s why we need to go back to Parliament to speak to the Appropriations Committee,” says Trusha Reddy from WoMin.

Contacts:

Trusha Reddy, WoMin African Alliance , +27 82 795 3135                                                                 

Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers, +27 76 842 3874