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Why are Chinese actors considering support for Inga 3 even if the project violates basic Chinese and international standards?Will geopolitical interests – and particularly China’s mining interests in the DRC – trump financial and environmental responsibility?According to internal sources, the DRC government was not happy with the selection of the company, and refused to work with SMEC.

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The China Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro, the members of the Chinese consortiums, have both committed not to build any projects without such assessments.

Building the Inga 3 Dam without thorough environmental due diligence would seriously undermine the efforts of Chinese companies to strengthen their environmental track record.

The Congo River has the second highest diversity in fish species after the Amazon, and the Inga 3 Dam would seriously impact the rich fisheries of the Lower Congo.

Yet in spite of the plans to speed up project construction, the DRC government is still not moving forward with the social and environmental impact assessments.

The Inga 3 Dam is the first stage of the 40,000 MW Grand Inga scheme, the world’s largest hydropower complex.

Even though more than 90% of the DRC population has no access to electricity, the project will mainly generate power for mining companies and export markets.

The World Bank, the World Energy Council and the dam industry have presented the Inga 3 Dam as a “dream for Africa” and a model for the lessons they have learned from past experience with mega-projects.

Now the hydropower project on the Congo is unraveling into a political ploy with complete disregard for affected people and the environment.

The DRC government says that Inga 3 is under time pressure because the contract with South Africa, the main purchaser of the project’s electricity, will expire in 2021.

The South African government may not be prepared to renew the contract after President Zuma, who promoted Inga 3 against considerable opposition, steps down in 2019.

Peter Bosshard is the Interim Executive Director of International Rivers.

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