ACS withdraws from $14bn Inga 3 hydro scheme in the Congo

Spanish contractor ACS has withdrawn from the 10GW Inga 3 hydroelectric project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ACS had signed a preliminary agreement with Chinese companies led by Three Gorges in 2018 to develop the project on the Congo River, the world’s deepest.

An ACS spokesperson told Reuters on 21 January: "The ACS group will not participate in the execution of the project", providing no explanation for the decision.

It is thought that ACS effectively abandoned the project at the end of 2019 following disagreements with its Chinese partners.

Reuters added that the head of the government agency overseeing Inga 3 was awaiting formal notification of ACS’s withdrawal, but that the project would proceed with its Chinese backers.

Bruno Kapandji, head of Congo’s Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, said: "Let’s wait and see. The important thing for me is that Inga has become a reality, and is attracting interest from many developers."

Three Gorges wrote a letter to Kapandji in September last year, saying the two sides were unable to agree on the construction and finance schedule for the project, or how shares in it would be divided. The consortium was to have provided all the finance for the scheme.

The letter was published by New York University’s Congo Research Group and Belgium-based advocacy organization, Resource Matters.

Elisabeth Caesens, director of Resource Matters, told Reuters that ACS had not been the "driving force" of the project, and that those companies left in the ProInga consortium, including Power China, and Spain’s AEE Power, would now look for "more enthusiastic partners".  

Resource Matters notes that the project, which would quadruple the DRC’s electricity output, "remains a priority for both President Félix Tshisekedi and the African Union". However, if it is ever completed, only 3GW of its output would go to the Congolese, with the lion’s share going to the mining industry.

Image: A view of the existing Inga 1 dam (Alaindg/CC BY 2.5)

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  1. Wise move ACS

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