Lifeline for 1,000MW Luapula project

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – The Development Bank of South Africa, Germany’s KWF and the World Bank have availed US$8 million for a full feasibility study for the proposed 1,000MW Luapula Hydropower Station to be shared by the DRC and Zambia.

The two countries signed an MoU for construction of the power plant in 2015 with a view to commissioning the project by 2020, but technical and financial constraints have hampered progress.

The DRC’s Société nationale d'électricité (SNEL) and Zambia’s Zesco are the project developers of the plant that will be on the Luapula River between the two countries.

This week, Zesco director for generation Fidelis Mubiana told The Southern Times that, “We did the pre-feasibility studies and we understand some of the complexities, but we need full feasibility studies … We are hoping to have it commissioned by 2022 so that we can cut down on the energy deficit in the region.”

Southern Africa Power Pool co-ordination centre manager Engineer Stephen Dihwa had earlier told The Southern Times 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.

Upon completion, the Luapula power plant is expected to help boost power generation for both countries.

The SAPP official added: “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.”

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