The World Bank has suspended funding for a huge dam development in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the government changed plans for the project.
The bank said it is suspending disbursements on its $73.1m grant intended at funding technical assistance on the Inga-3 Basse Chute (BC) & Mid-Size Hydropower Development Technical Assistance (TA) Project.
The total estimated cost of the project is about $14bn. It is part of an eight-stage Grand Inga project which could produce 44GW of energy at an estimated cost of $50-80bn.
The World Bank's grant includes $47.5m for Inga-3 BC development support and $25.6m for mid-size hydropower development support.
The decision was taken after the government of DRC decided to take the project in a different strategic direction than it was agreed upon between the government and the World Bank in 2014. At the time of suspension, about 6% of the total project financing had been disbursed.
It is unclear as to how the impact of the withdrawal of funds could be on the project. In May, the government of DRC mentioned that it was looking sources of finance, but the exact amount was not disclosed.
A government DRC official noted that the project would still go on as it is a private-public partnership.
On the other hand, even though it had withdrawn funds for the project, the World Bank noted that it still remains committed to support DRC in its efforts to provide affordable and reliable energy for its people and to drive sustainable sources of growth for the economy.
It also said that beyond the Inga project, it will remain engaged in the electricity sector in DRC and will focus on improving the performance of DRC’s state utility, SNEL by rehabilitating mid-size hydropower plants, increasing energy access and continuing support to regional transmission interconnections.