The International Finace Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a project services agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Congo to assess the feasibility of the Sounda hydropower project.
IFC will carry out studies that assess the potential for a hydropower project with strong environmental and social safeguards at the Sounda Gorge on the Kouilou river. IFC will consider a range of scenarios for establishing a hydro dam and power plant at Sounda Gorge. IFC will undertake detailed engineering, environmental, social, and market studies, and a legal analysis.
Jean-Jacques Bouya, the Congolese Minister of Spatial Planning stated:
The development of this new source of reliable, and renewable, energy is a priority for the Government of the Republic of the Congo. It will encourage new investment and contribute to filling energy needs that accelerate social and economic development.
Jean Philippe Prosper, Vice President for IFC Global Client Services commented:
IFC’s agreement with the Republic of Congo is an important first step in assessing the viability of the Sounda hydropower project. We have agreed with the government to assess the potential of the project to deliver significant long-term developmental outcomes, while minimizing environmental or social impacts.
IFC will carry out the studies over the next 18 months, providing critical information to help the government determine the most appropriate size for the project based on environmental and social considerations and the amount of electricity that can be absorbed by offtakers. IFC will consider options for developing the project, including through public procurement and public-private partnerships (PPP).
Only about a third of Congo’s population has access to electricity. Overcoming this gap is one of the country’s main development goals. The Sounda project has the potential to make a significant contribution to increasing power by providing a renewable source of low cost electricity.