On July 25, the World Bank suspended its support for the giant Inga 3 Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What the World Bank once hailed as a “transformational project” for the region has become the latest cautionary tale of the enormous pitfalls of mega-dams.
Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Director of International Rivers, says: “We applaud the World Bank’s decision to suspend Inga 3, a project in which it shouldn’t have become involved in the first place. Inga 3 represents a failed development model which bypasses the poor for the benefit of extractive industry and export markets.”
In 2014, the World Bank approved a $73 million grant to finance preparation of Inga 3, including the environmental, social and technical studies. Two years on, these studies have not even begun because of irregularities in the procurement process. In May, the Project Director of Inga 3 proposed that construction of the dam could commence next year even without these studies.
Joshua Klemm, Policy Director of International Rivers, comments: “The World Bank’s withdrawal illustrates that Inga 3 violates basic environmental and procurement standards. Any other investors should think twice about getting involved in this white elephant.”
Chinese and Spanish consortia have each submitted bids for the contract to develop the Inga 3 scheme, with the winner to be announced in October. The project’s biggest unknown is who will finance the $14 billion price tag. The African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the French government have all expressed interest.
Yesterday’s embarrassing decision should serve as a wake-up call for the World Bank, which promotes mega-dams as a false solution to energy poverty and climate change. With the dams it finances ending in huge delays and cost overruns all over the world, the World Bank may finally learn a hard-won lesson. Comments Peter Bosshard, International Rivers’ Interim Executive Director: “For the World Bank, this could spell the beginning of the end of its love affair with mega-dams.”
World Bank press release of July 25: www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2016/07/25/world-bank-group-suspends-financing-to-the-inga-3-basse-chute-technical-assistance-project
Background information on Inga 3: www.internationalrivers.org/node/8211