Harare – Zambia and Zimbabwe have approved a US$400,000 supplementary budget to help the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) see out 2020.
ZRA is a bilateral organisation which administers affairs of the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba on behalf of the two neighbours. The ZRA is overseen by a council of the countries’ ministers of energy and of finance, as well as the two attorneys-general.
“The council of ministers considered and approved a supplementary budget for the period of July to December 2020 for the Zambezi River Authority in the amount of US$403,944 in respect to employment and electricity costs for the period of July to December 2020,” the ZRA said in statement.
The authority said progress had been made in development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme, which is being built by a consortium of Power Construction Corporation (China) and General Electric (the United States).
“The Council of Ministers noted with satisfaction that engagements between the consortium, the authority and power utilities had progressed well notwithstanding the disruptions of some activities that were caused by the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19,” the council said.
Once completed, the 2 400-megawatt power plant is expected to ease electricity shortages in the region.
The Batoka plant will be located 47km downstream of Victoria Falls.
According to the project environmental and social impact assessment report, construction is expected to last around nine years and will be undertaken in two stages.
The first stage will involve building of access roads and the permanent camps. This is expected to take no more than two years.
The second phase, which entails construction of the dam and power plants, is expected to take six to seven years.
The ZRA recently told The Southern Times Business that the reservoir would be fully contained in a very steep and uninhabited gorge, meaning that the dam itself would not cause any human displacement.
However, a few families living in the power line servitudes will be resettled in line with an already developed resettlement policy framework.
The Batoka plant is a renewable energy priority project under the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa.