Grand Inga – Current Status and Lessons from the World’s Largest Hydropower Project

Grand Inga: Current Status and Lessons from the World’s Largest Hydropower Project

Richard Swanson

Rich Swanson is an independent consultant, and researcher for a current MIT and UN-WIDER project entitled Africa’s Energy Futures. Rich is also the president of World Partners, a non-profit that helps small businesses in developing countries to grow more rapidly. He is currently working on his PhD in Civil Systems at the University of Colorado (CU), has a Master’s degree from Tufts’ Fletcher School and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from CU.

The Inga Dam, in the Democratic Republic of Congo would be the largest hydro-power plant in the world, and one of the largest civil works projects ever constructed. Its power could electrify much of Africa. The site, near the mouth of the Congo River, has long been considered by engineers, investors and politicians as both a fascinating challenge, and source of great benefits. But still, it seems as though its completion is a distant possibility at best. What is the history of this compelling site, and why has Inga not been built? Today there is renewed interest; where is the interest coming from, and what are the new ideas that have been driving it?

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