Environmentalists are urging South Africa to ditch the Grand Inga project in the Democratic Republic of Congo saying the hydropower scheme is overpriced.

International Rivers is requesting that Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announce the country’s withdrawal from the Grand Inga project in his budget speech later on Thursday.

The project is not expected to begin producing power until 2024/2025.

International Rivers’ Africa Programme Associate, Ange Asanzi, says the project – aimed at generating 40 000 Megawatts of power on the Congo River – will be very costly to South Africa.

“Because of the impact it will have on the ecosystem as well as the enormous cost of the project, the intention of building the dam is to provide power to the mining sectors in the DRC as well as in South Africa while Congolese people do not have much access to it. The access in the DRC is about 9%,” says Asanzi.

Asanzi adds, “There are a lot of other sources of energy in South Africa and it is more expensive for SA to invest in Inga, that it is to build its own energy infrastructure in the country.”