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27 July 2016

World Bank freezes funds for DR Congo dam project

DRCWashington (AFP) – The World Bank has frozen funding for a massive dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the government altered plans for the project.

The Bank said in a statement late Monday that is was suspending disbursements on its $73.1 million grant aimed at funding technical assistance on the Inga-3 Basse Chute hydropower dam.

It froze the money after a DR Congo “decision to take the project in a different strategic direction to that agreed between the World Bank and the government in 2014.”

It gave no details on what the problem was, but noted that its funding “aimed to support a government-led process for the transparent development of Inga-3 BC as a public-private partnership.”

Only six percent of the funds have been disbursed so far, the Bank said.

The Inga 3 Basse Chute project is designed to boost power supplies to a region starved of electricity.

It would divert Congo River waters into a 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) channel and then pass them through a 100-meter-high (330-foot) hydropower dam in the Bundi Valley before releasing the water back into the river.

The intake would be above the existing Inga 1 and Inga 2 dams, and the outflow downstream from both.

The dam is expected to generate 4,800 megawatts of power, equivalent to the output of three third-generation nuclear reactors.

The World Bank said it remains committed to supporting the DR Congo.

“The World Bank Group is in a continuing dialogue with the Government about the implementation arrangements of the project, with the goal of ensuring that it follows international good practice,” it said.

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