World Bank gives $73 million to fight ‘Energy Apartheid’

Posted Apr 2, 2014 by Bill K. Anderson
‘Energy Apartheid’: That’s the term World Bank President Jim Yong Kim used Tuesday to describe the lack of adequate access to energy in Africa as compared to the rest of the world.
Inga Falls on the Congo River
Inga Falls on the Congo River
(Richard and Jo deMeester
Kim remarked that the amount of energy available to people in the continent of Africa is equal to that which is provided to the people of Belgium, a country whose population is less than 1% the size of Africa’s.
Inadequate energy access is tied to many other problems. It can take up to three hours a day to gather firewood to cook with, which takes time away from working and taking care of family members. The fumes created by traditional cooking methods are responsible for some 1.4 million deaths each year. Furthermore, modern energy access is indispensable for the creation of a healthy infrastructure with adequate plumbing, transportation, and commerce.
In order to combat these problems, Kim announced on Tuesday that the World Bank will be contributing 73 million dollars to the construction of a 4,800-megawatt hydroelectric plant on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the largest such facility in the world. The total cost is expected to be close to $12 billion.
The plant, called Inga III, would be able to generate the equivalent of approximately 50% of the energy currently produced in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, has set a goal for universal energy access by 2030, but the vast gap between Africa and the rest of the world, and the enormous cost that would be required to close it seem to render this goal elusive even with the construction of Inga III.