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Beyond mega on a mega continent: Grand Inga on central Africa's Congo River
chapterposted on 2023-06-07, 16:45 authored by Kate Showers
Africa has been estimated to contain 1/2 the worlds hydropower potential; its Congo River, the earths 2nd largest by flow, for . Twentieth century intention to harness the lower Congo paralleled developments in electricity generation and transmission technologies while surviving political instability, war and political and economic regimes ranging from colonialism to globalization. Lack of investors and markets limited implementation until early twenty-first century engineers recognition of significant terrestrial environmental consequences finally ended plans for a single dam. Grand Inga was reformulated as Grand Inga Cascade. However, because planners did not consider the significant relations between Congo River waters properties and the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, continued vigilance is essential as new plans are proposed. This paper reviews the intertwined histories constituting the idea of Grand Inga (the extraction of vast amounts of energy at minimal cost from Inga Falls), discusses the different meanings of mega as applied to African hydroelectric dams, and different scales of impact assessment. Major interventions in landscapes require evaluation at an appropriate scale, and in a manner more comprehensive than a series of checklists in order to identify fundamental regionally and globally interconnected consequences. The term mega is shown to have become an inadequate descriptor as technology enabled ever larger projects. Some have consequences so large and complex in space and time that their origin can only come from a fantasy world in which biology does not exist.
Book titleEngineering the Earth: the impacts of megaengineering projects
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- Geography Publications
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