The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has shortlisted US, China and Italy for contract to construct the Batoka Gorge hydropower.
“We have already shortlisted three bidders for the Batoka Gorge hydropower and currently working to make sure the authority issues out a request for proposals (RFP), with the documentation for the RFPs already completed,” said ZRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Munyaradzi Munodawafa.
The authority which is jointly owned by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, shortlisted three developers; a consortium of General Electric of USA and Power Corporation of China, Salini Impregilo of Italy, and a joint venture comprising Three Gorges Corporation, China International and Water Electric Corporation, and the China Gezhouba Group to embark on the development.
Batoka Gorge hydropower
The Batoka Gorge hydropower project was mooted in 1992, but was delayed by an impasse over colonia era debts and community resistance. It is a joint venture between Zimbabwe and Zambia, which seeks to develop a 2 400MW power project on the Zambezi River.
It will be constructed and all water bodies situated on the 2 700 kilometre long river at an estimated cost of US $4bn. The river also feeds the world’s largest man-made water reservoir, the Kariba Dam, which powers two hydro schemes on either side of the river and operated by the two neighboring countries.
Construction works is expected to take six years to complete but electricity generation will start in the third year. The project would be on a Build-Operate-Transfer financing model and would not put any fiscal strain on the two governments. As a result, no sovereign guarantees would be needed.
Acute shortage of power
According to the CEO, they are almost concluding the engineering feasibility study on the project while the environmental impact assessment study had been finalized and the document would be ready for disclosure to the public within the next two weeks.
“If all goes well, by September we should have a developer for the Batoka. So, for Batoka, we are talking of a 2 400MW plant; 1 200MW on both sides of the river. We are just waiting for the developer, when we appoint we will then go to the next stage of construction,” noted Mr. Munyaradzi.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are experiencing acute shortage of power after ZRA cut generation at Kariba Dam, which supplied the bulk of their power requirements, to avoid depleting the dam on the back of low inflows and receding water levels after a poor rainy season in its catchment area.