Mega power project cost goes down

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pa­trick Chi­tumba in Vic­to­ria Falls

THE pro­jected cost of the pro­posed Ba­toka Gorge Hy­dro-elec­tric scheme on the Zam­bezi River has been re­vised down­wards from $6 bil­lion to $4 bil­lion.

The re­vi­sion comes as the Zim­babwe and Zam­bian gov­ern­ments in­ten­si­fied work on the project.

Both Gov­ern­ments have since al­layed fears that the pro­posed scheme could re­sult in flood­ing in the re­sort town of Vic­to­ria Falls, threat­en­ing wa­ter sports.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists from both Zam­bia and Zim­babwe at a two-day me­dia tour at the pro­posed site of the project in Kasilili Vil­lage, about 80km from the re­sort town, the chair­per­son of Zam­bezi River Au­thor­ity (ZRA), Mr Part­son Mbiriri said it had been rec­om­mended that the dam will be “a runoff river scheme.”

He said the scheme meant that lit­tle amounts of wa­ter would be stored while the rest would be re­leased im­me­di­ately to gen­er­ate power.

There has been an out­cry by tour op­er­a­tors in Vic­to­ria Falls and Liv­ing­stone that if the project went ahead, they would be forced to stop white wa­ter raft­ing.

“There have been out­cries that Vic­to­ria Falls will flood be­cause of the dam wall to be con­structed and yes we have to be care­ful of how high the dam wall and flow of the river would be. This type of a scheme is re­ferred to as run-off river scheme mean­ing there would be lit­tle stor­age. The wa­ter will just flow through, gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity and that will not flood Vic­to­ria Falls. We’ve learnt from how the Kariba dam was con­structed,” he said.

Mr Mbiriri who is also the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of En­ergy and Power Devel­op­ment said the dam wall will be about 100 me­tres high, gen­er­at­ing 1 200 megawatts of elec­tric­ity for both Zim­babwe and Zam­bia. He said both coun­tries would each have a hy­dro power sta­tion.

“Both coun­tries will pro­duce 1 200 megawatts each and dou­ble the cur­rent pro­duc­tion we have at Kariba dam.

“We how­ever have more sites along the Zam­bezi River which we can utilise to pro­duce power,” said Mr Mbiriri.

He said they were look­ing for $4 bil­lion to fund the project which is ex­pected to be com­pleted in 2024.

Mr Mbiriri said two years ago, the project had been pro­jected to cost $6 bil­lion.

“The fact of the mat­ter is that two years ago we didn’t have a grip on what this will cost but now we’re get­ting closer to the truth with de­tailed bills of quan­ti­ties. This is what it is,” he said.

Mr Mbiriri said there were po­ten­tial fun­ders and the African Devel­op­ment Bank was among them.

He said the fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion funded the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies.

“We’re not quite there yet in terms of con­struc­tion of the dam but once we start, we’ll have a [low] car­bon foot­print and hy­dro cost is cheaper be­cause the power will be blended with power from Hwange to bring the cost of power pro­duc­tion down,” he said.

ZRA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer En­gi­neer Mun­yaradzi Mun­odawafa said lo­cal and Zam­bian indige­nous com­pa­nies had ben­e­fited from $8 mil­lion that went into the con­struc­tion of ac­cess roads and con­duct­ing of en­vi­ron­ment im­pact as­sess­ment plan.

The project will em­ploy 3 000 peo­ple in both coun­tries. — @pchi­tumba1

Mr Part­son Mbiriri

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