Plans to link Europe to what would be the world’s biggest hydroelectric dam project in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked fierce controversy.
The Grand Inga dam, which has received initial support from the World Bqank would cost $80bn (£48bn). At 40,000MW, it has more than twice the generation capacity of the giant Three Gorges dam in China and would be equivalent to the entire generation capacity of South Africa.
Grand Inga will involve transmission cables linking South Africa and countries in west Africa including Nigeria. A cable would also run through the Sahara to Egypt.
But controversially, it is understood that part of the feasibility study for the Grand Inga project would see the scheme extended to supply power to southern Europe, at a time when less than 30% of Africans have access to electricity – a figure that can fall to less than 10% in many countries.
Extending the scheme to Europe is part of a recent trend that includes the ambitious €400bn (£345bn) Desertec plan to take solar power from the Sahara to southern Europe. And last month Nigeria, Niger and Algeria, with the backing of the European Union, signed a $12bn agreement to transport Nigerian gas through a pipeline to Europe.
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