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World Bank grants $73 million to help construction of large-scale Congo hydropower project

Congo's prime minister has welcomed a World Bank grant of $73.1 million to support the construction of a huge hydropower project.

The World Bank announced the technical assistance project Thursday, saying it would fund studies to "guide sustainable development" of the Inga III dam and also create a local agency to award contracts.

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said the funding was strong endorsement of a project that could help address Africa's energy woes.

The World Bank says Congo's hydropower potential is estimated to be the third-largest in the world behind China and Russia. But Ponyo said only 9 percent of Congo's population has access to electricity.

The Inga III dam is expected to produce 4,800 megawatts of power, which Ponyo said was equal to three third-generation nuclear reactors.