- Bloomberg reports that Sovereign defaults by both Zambia and Zimbabwe have escalated the Batoka Gorge hydro-electric project cost, with the estimated price climbing 23% to almost US$5 billion.
- The Zambezi River Authority’s (ZRA) Council of Ministers awarded the tender for the construction of the 2400Mw Zimbabwe/Zambia Batoka Gorge Hydro Project to a consortium of General Electric and Power Construction Corporation of China back in July 2019.
The project has not started and now needs credit support, the Zambezi River Authority said in an emailed response to questions sent by Bloomberg. This may be raised through development bank guarantees, government guarantees or partial credit and risk guarantees, the agency, which is overseeing the construction of the project, said.
Building was planned to start in 2020, but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and is yet to begin. The developers are also seeking tax incentives from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The 2400MW project comprises a 181 m high, 720 m roller compacted concrete gravity arch dam, radial gated crest type spillway, four intakes in the reservoir, two surface power plants, 6 turbines plus transmission lines.
The project is being implemented under the auspices of the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a bi-national organisation mandated to operate, monitor and maintain the Kariba Dam Complex as well as exploit the full potential of the Zambezi River.
The plant location is 52km’s downstream from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. Bringing Batoka Gorge on-stream will see Zimbabwe attain electricity self-sufficiency. The country is producing about 1,300 MW against demand of 1,900 MW, with deficits being covered by imports from South Africa and Mozambique.
Meanwhile the United Nations has informed the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe that Victoria Falls could lose its unique heritage status if a hotel, golf course and a power station is built at the site.
The projects that are threatening the status of the Vic Falls are the planned Batoka hydro power project and the Raddison Blu Livingstone Hotel and Golf Course financed by NAPSA.
The UNESCO team has also called for a halt to the building of the 300-bed hotel in Livingstone.
According to The Times, the plans by the two countries’ governments have concerned UNESCo officials, as the golf course could disrupt an established elephant corridor.
Victoria Falls is the world’s largest sheet of falling water, featuring unique rock structures, and earned its world heritage site status in 1989.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal