24 February 2005

Central Africa: UN Agency Hears of African Plans to Industrialize And Sell Electricity to Europe

Plans to harness the mighty Congo River to eventually generate enough electricity not only to power Africa's industrialization but also to sell to southern Europe via a Mediterranean connector are being drawn up by one of Africa's biggest energy companies, the United Nations environmental agency was told today.

"We calculate that hydroelectricity from the Congo could generate more than 40,000 megawatts, enough to power Africa's industrialization with the possibility of selling the surplus to southern Europe," Reuel Khoza, chairman of the South African-based power company Eskom Holdings, said at UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mr. Khoza, among a delegation of business leaders attending the "Africa Business and Sustainable Development" meeting coinciding with UNEP's 23rd Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum, added that the idea had been suggested in the past, but was now gaining real political momentum under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Prospects of peace in the region were also concentrating minds.

The scheme, which will initially focus on the Inga Rapids, aims to supply surplus electricity to places like Spain and Italy via an inter-connector under the Mediterranean Sea after satisfying the power requirements needed for Africa's industrialization.

Co-organized by UNEP with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Energy Council (WEC), the meeting examined how the provision of water and energy underpins the sustainable development needs of Africa and can contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve hunger and poverty and cut a host of other ills by 2015.

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