Lusaka – The DRC andZambia hope to finalise a feasibility study for the joint 1,200MW Luapula Hydro Power Plant this month, with construction expected to start in 2022.
The project is backed by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the German Development Bank. The DRC and Zambia signed an MoU on the power plant in 2015 and they had hoped to start construction in 2020 but a combination of technical and financial challenges, and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has slowed progress.
Power utilities Snel of the DRC and Zesco of Zambia are the project developers.
Zesco director of generation Mr Fidelis Mubiana told The Southern Times Business that, “We are meeting this month-end to finalise the full feasibility study and later select a contractor to give us the give us the full project design.”
Both the DRC and Zambia are part of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
“We are hoping to have it commissioned by 2022 so that we can cut down on the energy deficit in the region,” Mr Mubiana added.
SAPP Co-ordination Centre head Engineer Stephen Dihwa had earlier told this publication that, “As the project co-ordinators, together with the two countries involved, we want to reach a point where a decision has to be made, whether the Luapula Hydro Power Plant is a project worth pursuing or not.
“We are at that stage where we want to understand the possibilities of this project, because projects like these might look good on the surface, yet there are some cracks inside. One of the reasons why we go through such phases when preparing for a hydro project is because hydro has become a bit sensitive hence the need to look into everything before commencing the project.
“Due to drought, Zambia is one of the SADC countries that are not doing well in terms of producing enough power to meet the needs of their country. DRC is doing well, yes, their power generation capacity goes up and down but they are not doing bad in terms of power generation.”