Zim pins hope on Batoka power project

HARARE - Zimbabwe is pinning its hopes to reduce the incessant load-shedding on the construction of the 2 400 megawatts (MW) Batoka project.

The country, currently producing an average of 1 200MW against a daily demand of 2 200MW resulting in acute load shedding to fill the 1 000MW gap, is expected to receive at least 1 200MW from the Batoka gorge project, which is located downstream of the Victoria Falls and upstream of the existing Kariba Dam hydroelectric scheme.

Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chairperson Patson Mbiriri said pre-construction and feasibility studies at the $4 billion Batoka hydro-electric scheme are expected to be completed by mid this year, after which funding will commence.

And the African Development Bank (AfDB) has concluded the first phase of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) capacity development meeting aimed at supporting the development of the Batoka project, one of the biggest proposed hydro-power projects in Africa.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to benefit from the trailblazing transnational project which has the potential to make both countries the net exporters of power across the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.

Energy experts say the magnitude of this hydropower dam is estimated to be one of Africa’s tallest and would create a large reservoir with the capacity to supply 60 percent of the continent’s electricity needs.

“The conclusion of the first phase of a PPP capacity development seminar at the AfDB regional offices in Centurion took place ... from April 4 to 8, 2016. We expect pre-construction and feasibility studies to be completed by mid this year, after which funding will commence. Our two governments are eager to proceed in order to meet the urgent energy deficit in the southern African region,” Mbiriri said.

The Batoka project will also involve the construction of a dam wall and two power plants — one on the north bank and one on the south bank of the Zambezi river — as well as associated tourism and fisheries facilities.

Experts believe that the project would be the third largest hydropower development on the Zambezi river mainstream, after Kariba and Cabora Bassa in Mozambique.

The project, which is expected to take approximately 10 years to reach full completion, will result in Zambia and Zimbabwe significantly reducing power outages and reliance on coal-fired power stations.

This comes as the two southern African countries have recently been experiencing massive power outages following the declining water levels in Kariba Dam as a result of recurring droughts.

Comments (1)

All eggs in one basket. A severe drought will mean no power.

taki - 2 May 2016

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