Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org
“Kikwit is a town of almost one million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Its inhabitants have no access to electricity. Because the water pumps are no longer working, they have no access to clean water either. In the 1990s, the town made news through an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which was helped by the poor sanitary conditions.
Kikwit is not located at the end of the world. It lies underneath the power lines of the Inga dams on the mighty Congo River. Yet the electric current that hums overhead is not meant for poor people. It is exported to the mining companies in the southern Katanga province. Over the past decades, billions of dollars have been invested in the DRC’s power sector. They have created a stark energy divide: eighty-five percent of the country’s electricity is consumed by energy-intensive industries, while 94 percent of the population has no access to electricity.”
Read more: International Rivers
G20 party. Retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org
“The infrastructure sector is a key example for the G20’s powerful role behind the scenes. The group has commissioned a high-level panel of experts to prepare recommendations on future infrastructure investment in Southern countries. This panel brings together 17 leading representatives of large corporations, banks and government agencies. Civil society groups and trade unions are absent from its roster. The panel has just submitted its recommendations to the G20’s heads of state, who will convene for their annual meeting in Cannes/France next week. The new report illustrates what is wrong with delegating extensive powers to an exclusive body like the G20:
- Public interest ignored: In its early announcements, the high-level panel narrowly focused on the promotion of economic growth, at the exclusion of poverty reduction, environmental protection, and human rights. In its new report, the panel will recommend six criteria according to which the World Bank and other funders should prioritize their future projects. As the Boell Foundation reports, these criteria include issues such as regional integration and attractiveness for the private sector. They are silent on poverty reduction, protection of the environment and even climate change.
- Big is beautiful: The high-level panel was asked to identify a number of projects which exemplify the new approach to infrastructure development. Early on, this list included a transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya and the Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River. The transmission line will depend on the completion of the controversial Gibe III Dam on the Omo River, which violates numerous international agreements and will impoverish up to 500,000 indigenous people. The Inga dams will cost billions of dollars and will generate electricity for aluminum smelters and far-away urban centers, but will ignore the needs of Africa’s rural poor. The first two stages of the hydropower scheme have turned out to be white elephants and monuments of corruption. Scientists have warnedthat the proposed new dams may have “truly alarming” impacts on the capacity of the Atlantic Ocean to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”
Read more: International Rivers