Zim, Zambia power project to resume

HARARE - The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA)’s multi-billion dollar project to construct a 1 600 megawatts hydropower station in Victoria Falls will soon commence following Zambia’s renewed interest in implementing the initiative.

ZRA is a company jointly-owned by Zimbabwe and Zambia and has the sole authority in the running of the hydropower station.

Assessment on the feasibility of the hydropower project, which seeks to curb the rising demand for electricity in both countries, was first conducted in 1992.

Cyprian Chitundu, Zambia Electricity Services Cooperation (Zesco)’s managing director said tenders had been invited for consultants to review the feasibility study.

He said the project required an estimated $4 billion to complete.

“We need to ensure that the feasibility study is brought to speed,” Chitundu said.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), Zesco and ministries of Energy and Finance from both countries have set up a committee to spearhead resumption of the project.

Chitundu said his company was upping its socks in mobilising its stakeholder to come to their rescue in providing funds to guarantee a smooth operation once assessments are completed.

“The development of the project is high on the agenda. Zambia’s economy is growing at an average of seven percent annually and unless we build an alternative power source we will continue facing power deficit to meet demands of our industries,” he said.

Chitundu, however, encouraged his company’s stakeholder to take a leaf and realise opportunity in vesting in the less populated area of investment, noting that in the future it would become a lot more expensive to invest in the energy industry.

“This is the best time to invest in the project because in 10 years’ time it will be a lot more expensive,” he said.

This comes on the back of Zimbabwe’s recent opening up of the energy sector to private players as part of efforts to ease power shortages in the country.

Zimbabwe faces a huge power deficit which has impacted negatively on industry’s performance, with the country generating an average of 1 000 megawatts out of a requirement of 2 200 megawatts.

To date The Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (Zera) — which is mandated to licence new players into the energy sector — has licenced 10 independent power producers with a capacity to generate over 5 000 megawatts.

The new producers are expected to complement power utility, Zesa Holdings, which is struggling to meet demand and has rationed supplies to both domestic and commercial users for years. - Alfred Tembo recently in Lusaka

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