Financial closure for Batoka project by year-end
LEAD financier for the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity project, the African Development Bank (AfDB), has commenced the implementation of a Resource Mobilisation Plan to secure $4 billion, according to the Zimbabwe River Authority.
Financial closure is expected by yearend.
The massive project, set to generate 2 400 mega-watts (MW) on completion, includes a 181-metre high dam and two underground power stations located in each country with installed capacity of 1200 megawatts on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides.
The development of the project, which is being co-developed by Zimbabwe and Zambia, was structured in three phases. Phase one involved updating engineering feasibility studies, carrying out of environmental impact assessment studies, and addressing institutional legal aspects of the project.
Phase two comprises of resource mobilisation and tendering.
Phase three will involve financing support works related to construction and commissioning.
“The board noted that the AfDB had commenced the implementation of a Resource Mobilisation Plan to secure the funds required for the construction of the 181-metre high dam, two power stations to be located on either bank of the Zambezi River which will each generate 1 200MW, as well as the associated power transmission lines to evacuate power from the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme,” said the ZRA in a recent update on the project.
Although phase two has commenced, the Zambezi River Authority confirmed that completion of feasibility studies on the project (under phase one) will be completed by mid-2019 “due to the complex nature of the project.”
Earlier this year, international electrical engineering giants, China Power and United States incorporated General Electric (GE), launched a joint bid for a contract to construct the 2 400 MW project.
The Batoka project is expected to improve power output for both countries.
On the Zimbabwean side, the country has 2 245MW of installed generation capacity but constraints in water supply for hydro-power generation at Kariba and coal supply challenges have impacted on power generation.
The Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric project was long overdue, having been mooted in the early 1990s when the cost of implementing it stood at $2 billion, which has since doubled.
It is projected that during the construction phase, 6000 jobs will be created and a further 1200 permanent green jobs during the operational phase.
These will be shared equally between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The project is expected to significantly increase power exports to the regional Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) energy generation mix.
The site of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Scheme is located across the Zambezi River on the international boundary between the sovereign states of Zambia and Zimbabwe, 54 kilometers downstream of the Victoria Falls.