UPDATE 1-Congo signs deal for $14 bln Inga hydroelectric project

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Oct 16 (Reuters) - Congo signed a joint deal on Tuesday to develop a $14 billion hydroelectric project with one consortium led by China Three Gorges Corporation and a second Spanish-led one.

The Inga 3 project is part of a $50-$80 billion programme to expand hydroelectric dams along the Congo River, but it has repeatedly been delayed by red tape and disagreements between Democratic Republic of Congo and its partners.

After initially competing for the deal, the Chinese investor group and the other including Spain’s ACS (Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA) were asked to submit a joint bid, which they did in June.

The next stage requires the investors to carry out detailed studies for the project, taking into account social and environmental considerations, the state agency responsible for the project said in a statement.

The 11,000-megawatt Inga 3 is projected to provide power for South Africa as well as mines and other consumers in Congo.

But campaign group International Rivers has said it would ultimately deliver little or no electricity to consumers inside Congo because of transmission losses and because production would not meet its target. (Reporting by Stanys Bujakera and Giulia Paravicini; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Tim Cocks and John Stonestreet)