SA, DRC in major energy deal

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretoria - South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo are to sign a major hydropower project at the weekend which officials say will benefit both countries.

President Jacob Zuma, who will visit the DRC on Saturday, is expected to witness the signing of the deal with his counterpart President Joseph Kabila, the Presidency said on Thursday.

It said upon successful completion, the envisaged hydropower project, with an estimated capacity of 40 000MW, had a potential to change the African energy sector and would increase Africa generation capacity.

"This will enhance energy access to clean and efficient energy across the continent and contribute significantly towards a low carbon economy and economic development," said a statement by the Presidency.

The Memorandum of Understanding was a product of engagement between the two governments and will be signed by Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters and her Congolese counterpart.

"This MOU further strengthens the existing cordial relationship between the two countries."

Zuma had further directed that the process of negotiations for a Treaty to give effect to the MoU must commence immediately, and be completed within the next six months. The proposed Treaty will create an enabling environment and necessary framework for the implementation of the project, including defined milestones for the execution of the Grand Inga Project.

The MoU also paved the way for the national utilities of both countries, Eskom and Societe Nationale d'Electricite Societe a Responsibilite Limitee National (SNEL), to enter into an agreement that would facilitate the execution of the project. A Technical Committee, comprised of senior officials from both countries and led by a Ministerial Commission will facilitate the finalization of the Treaty.

Next week, Zuma will conduct a two-nation visit to the Gulf Region beginning with the United Arab Emirates and then Oman.

In Oman, it is expected that a "Supplementary Protocol amending the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income" would be signed.