Fi­nan­cial clo­sure for Ba­toka project by year-end

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - BUSINESS - Busi­ness Re­porter

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.

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