The Cabinet has approved a draft treaty between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the development of the Grand Inga hydro-electric project, says Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi.
The Inga hydro-electric project on the Congo River could become the largest hydro-electric project in the world, and is expected to generate a massive 40 000MW of electricity - more than the current electricity generation in South Africa.
At a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Manyi said the project had the potential to supply clean and cost-effective hydroelectric power to meet the needs of the DRC and surrounding or nearby countries, including South Africa.
"This project entails the development of approximately 40 000MW of hydropower on the Congo River in the DRC which may be developed in several stand-alone phases," Manyi said.
The purpose of the treaty was to develop an enabling framework, linking the DRC and South Africa into the Grand Inga Project, and allowing for the two countries to jointly explore different economically feasible options for the development of the project.
Manyi said the two countries should also engage and source support for the project from other countries in the continent, especially those in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"The project will form part of South Africa's government strategy to promote renewable energy in the region, contribute to a reduction of carbon emissions, ensure security of supply and to develop energy infrastructure on the continent and the SADC region in particular."
On Tuesday, the Department of Energy's deputy director-general, Thandeka Zungu, said that after receiving approval from the Cabinet, the treaty would go to the DRC.
She said the envisaged hydropower project had a potential to change the face of the African energy sector, enhancing access to clean and efficient energy across the continent and contributing significantly towards low-carbon economies and economic development.
According to South Africa's Integrated Resource Plan, a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand, about 6% of electricity generated in the country will be required to come from hydro resources.