General Electric Co. has signed a preliminary agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo to develop energy and health infrastructure in the central African nation that could be worth about $1.8 billion.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, according to a statement issued by General Electric.
The statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington DC did not contain the amount, but Bloomberg quoted two people with direct knowledge of the talks as saying that the deals could be worth about $1.8 billion.
The two people, speaking on condition of anonymity before the information was not public, said GE South Africa Ltd. and Congo were discussing about $1 billion worth of hydropower projects that would add some 1,000 megawatts of power to Congo’s grid over the next three years, adding that discussions were also being held on about $800 million of health-related infrastructure investments.
Eric Amoussouga, GE’s chief executive officer for francophone Africa, told reporters the deal may include the rehabilitation of turbines on the Inga I and II dams that would return about 650 megawatts of power to the grid.
He said GE was also looking at the possibility of producing energy through liquefied natural gas projects.
“Partnership with governments and local companies form a very important part of GE’s growth in Africa, and we are honored today to collaborate with the government of the DRC as a key strategic partner for the country’s long-term development agenda. This gives us the opportunity to deliver innovative solutions to meet the unmet demand for the millions of citizens without electricity and those without access to quality healthcare,” said GE Africa President and CEO Mr. Farid Fezoua.
U.S. Ambassador to Congo Mike Hammer was quoted as saying the GE preliminary accord means that “once again, Congo is open for business and open for American investments.”
Under the MoU, GE will work with the government to explore power solutions that will increase electricity to the country’s grid to benefit thousands of households. GE will also work with the ministry of health for the modernization of the country’s health system at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as the infrastructures and equipment for maternal and child health, cardiology, and oncology. The partnership will also focus on training and capacity building of local talent for the sustainability of the initiatives.
GE is currently involved in the rehabilitation of Inga IIB power plant and of Nseke Power Plant in the DRC and has successfully implemented renovation projects with the 1st interventional Cardiology and CT Scanner with 128 systems installed at the HJ Hospital and new imaging center of Camp Kokolo. In the past, GE Healthcare also led the installation of the Scanner 16 slices at Panzi Hospital, giving thousands of citizens access to the latest diagnostic solutions.
GE first started operating in Sub-Saharan Africa over 120 years ago and in 2011 renewed its focus to meet Africa’s current and future needs. The company has signed MOUs with the Governments of several countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Ghana and now the DRC to develop infrastructure projects, including sustainable energy solutions as well as improving access to quality healthcare. These MOUs involve significant investments in creating jobs and human capital development.
According to the national electricity company, SNEL, Congo’s rivers could produce more than 100,000 megawatts of energy but the country has only about 2,500 megawatts of installed hydropower, much of which isn’t functional, resulting in only 9% of Congolese having access to electricity.
The country is currently in talks with the African Development Bank to develop a third dam at the Inga site on the Congo River. It could provide as much as 11,000 megawatts but could cost more than $14 billion.
“We currently have a power deficit of about 4,800 megawatts,” Serge Tshibangu, an energy adviser to President Felix Tshisekedi was quoted as saying on Wednesday. “The GE deal would let the president lower that deficit quickly by more than 20%, instead of waiting around several years for Inga III.”