Zambia, Zimbabwe speed up construction of Batoka power plant

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Sinikiwe Marodza

Harare - In a bid to speed up the construction of the Batoka hydro electricity power plant, the Zambezi River Authority’s Council of Ministers last weekend awarded the tender for the project to a consortium of General Electric of the United States and Power Construction Corporation of China under a build, operate and transfer funding model.

Initially, the contractor was supposed to be selected in September by the council which consists of ministers responsible for energy and finance portfolios in Zimbabwe and Zambia. However, due to power shortages that are affecting the two countries, there was a need to award the construction tender to a deserving party sooner so as to make sure the construction process moves faster.

According to the ZRA, the construction of the Batoka hydro electricity scheme is set to commence next year since the two countries are currently working on all the necessary paper work that needs to be sorted before the construction work begins.

Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi and his Finance and Economic Development counterpart, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Zambia’s Energy Minister, Mathew Nkhuwa, and his Finance Minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe, were part of the ZRA Council of Ministers that awarded the tender to a Chinese company after signing a communique on behalf of the two governments involved.

The communique signed by the two countries emphasized the need for action so as to curb the power supply shortages that are being faced by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The COM, however, noted that the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe were currently facing a power crisis which was worsened by the 2017-2018 hydrological season where the rainfall received was below normal.

“As a result of this abnormal rainfall pattern of the current season coupled with the uncertainty associated with future rainfall patterns for the region, factors of which spell out the need to fast track measures to establish additional water storage and power generation infrastructure, there was, therefore, need for the two governments to ensure that the implementation of the BGHES was expedited.

“In order to mitigate the current power crisis within the shortest possible time, the governments of the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe have reached an emergency decision to award the development of the BGHES to the consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and General Electric on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) financial model.

“This is in order to ensure the future energy security of the two nations,” reads part of the communique.

The Batoka power plant project is a collaborative work between Zambia and Zimbabwean governments to establish a 2400 MW hydroelectricity power plant that will generate equal shares of electricity for the two nations from the Zambezi River.

The power plant project, which has been in pipeline for the past seven years, has recorded significant traction in the past few months, following Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu’s 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The two countries are doing everything possible to make sure the project is a success, and so far, the two parties have been working on feasibility studies to make sure the project proceeds on accurate and realistic conditions.

 

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