Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme (BHES) in Zambia/Zimbabwe

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US$ 5bn has been approved for the implementation of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme (BHES) in Zambia/Zimbabwe. The monies were approved by the United Nations barely a month after a consensus was reached to proceed with the execution of the project.

According to Munyaradzi Munodawafa, the CEO of the Zambezi River Authority, by the end of next month, the authority will have an actual date of commencement of the project which is now “on solid ground”. 

Overview of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme

Batoka Gorge Hydropower Station or rather Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme (BHES) is a 2.4GW run-of-the-river hydroelectric facility set for construction on the Zambezi River, which flows across the boundaries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The project has been under development since 2012 when Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in February for the development of the project. Currently, the project is in its early stages of development which comprise site preparatory works and implementation of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

However, there are reports that General Electric and China’s Power Construction Corporation failed to offer finance due to the heavy indebtedness of the two countries. As a result, Zambia and Zimbabwe are looking to bring the African Development Bank (AfDB) to help finance the joint development.

The makeup of the proposed Batoka Gorge hydropower station

The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric facility will comprise a roller compacted concrete (RCC) gravity arch dam measuring 720m long and 181m-tall, and two 1,200MW surface powerhouses on both sides of the  Zambezi River, each powerhouse with six 200MW hydroelectric turbines.

The catchment area of the reservoir will be 508,000km², while four intakes will be built to send water to both the power plants through 4 km-long tunnels.

A crest-type spillway with 12 radial gates will be constructed to ensure the controlled release of flow from the reservoir. Measuring 13m tall and 14 m wide, the spillway’s design discharge capacity will be 20,000m³/s.

Upon completion, the cross-border hydroelectric project is expected to generate 10,215 GWh of electricity a year, which will be shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe through four proposed overhead transmission lines.

Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Project Timeline 

Feb 2015

Zambia and Zimbabwe to invest US$2.5b in a hydropower plant

The capacity of the Batoka George hydroelectric power plant, which is set to serve both Zimbabwe and Zambia, has now been increased from 1600MW to 2400MW. This is according to Munyaradzi Munodawafa the CEO of Zambezi River Authority, the company in charge of the hydropower project.

Munodawafa also noted that a feasibility study on the same was currently underway and a report on the same would be ready by May. After this, there would be an environmental impact assessment study for the Batoka George hydropower plant project. The initial cost for the power project was estimated to be US $2.5bn. However, the final cost will be known in May after the feasibility study for the project has been carried out.

The hydropower plant is expected to be constructed and operated by a private company that will also take its ownership for a couple of years before transferring the ownership to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Construction of the Batoka George Hydro-electric power plant will see to it that a dam is constructed at the Zambezi River to ease electricity problems in the two countries and other countries in the Southern Africa region.

Zimbabwe is targeting to increase its power generation is 9000 GW this year according to an earlier announcement.

March 2015

Zambia to construct a 1600mw power station

Zambia is set to start constructing a new power station in collaboration with Zimbabwe by January 2016. This is according to Zambia’s Mines, Energy, and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma. The new station will generate 1600MW of power.

The new power station will be located at Batoka and will be beneficial to both countries. The initial cost of the project was set at US $2.5bn and will involve the construction of a dam. 

The power project, involving the construction of two hydroelectric power stations each with the capability of producing a total capacity of 800 MW, will be constructed 54 km downstream of Victoria Falls.

The minister said the Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme project would be undertaken in 2021 or 2022, and feasibility studies are due this July. The two countries will then have financial advisors to facilitate moving forward of the power construction project. Provisions for funding the Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme and rehabilitation of the Kariba dam were also approved in the ZRA 2015 budget.

“We have secured the funding on papers to rehabilitate Kariba Dam. Grants are almost tripling and we are also supposed to get more loans. We should start rehabilitating the Dam in the next four to five months, particularly around September. We are very much on track as this is a very key project and we will ensure to deliver on that project,” he said.

The country is joining Zimbabwe in the rehabilitation of the Kariba hydro dam, and US$294m has been pumped by the World Bank, the European Union (EU), the Government of Sweden, and the African Development Bank. The two sources of power are the dam.

Studies on the Kariba dam revealed it was facing possible collapse as a result of corrosion of under-water-weight walls and blockage of water passage. A collapse would mean each of the two countries spends US $5bn. Rehabilitation is set to kick off in 2016.

Sep 2015

Delays in the construction of the Batoka power plant cost Zimbabwe and Zambia $45bn

Construction delays on the Batoka Power plant have resulted in an economic loss for Zimbabwe and Zambia of at least $45bn, the World Bank has announced. Batoka Gorge Power plant which is a 2,400Mw hydroelectric scheme joint venture between Zambia and Zimbabwe was first mooted in 1992.

The two countries have been constructing a hydroelectricity generating plant on the Batoka Gorge of the Zambezi River at an estimated cost of US $3bn which is expected to produce 1600MW to be shared between the two countries.

According to the World Bank, an analysis of the foregone benefits associated with the delayed implementation of the project showed a huge loss for both Zimbabwe and Zambia. This amounted to an estimated US $7bn in forgone electricity sales and an overall loss of over US $45bn.

The bank also noted that they were now focused on the technical and operational resources needed for the advancement of the Batoka Power Plant. There would be the updating of the engineering studies on the project, a new social and environmental impact assessment, and a legal and institutional review will be done on the same.

Upon completion, the Batoka power plant will help secure the energy needs of more than 1.2m households split equally between the two countries. Operations of the plant together with the Kariba Dam will also help increase the overall energy production by 8962GWh annually.

The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric scheme is located on the Zambezi River 54km downstream of Victoria Falls across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe. This would help in power generation which is currently dependent on coal-fired power plants.

Jan 2016

Construction of Batoka Hydro Power Plant in Zimbabwe to begin 2017

The construction of the Batoka Hydro Power Plant in Zimbabwe is set to commence in 2017. The plant will be built on the Zambezi River along the Zimbabwe-Zambia border. Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister, Samuel Undenge, told journalists in Harare last week that the feasibility studies are expected to be completed by June this year.

“This is a joint project between Zimbabwe and Zambia and with the good progress of the feasibility studies, the project will start next year as we look forward to adding more megawatts to our national grid,” Undenge said.

The World Bank is the chief financier of the project which is expected to generate 2,400 megawatts of electricity. According to Undenge, the debt Zimbabwe owed the Central African Power Corporation (Capco) has been closed in a bid to give way for smooth cooperation between the two countries.

The debt with the corporation accrued during the construction of the Kariba Dam. The government has attributed power shortage across the country to declining water levels at Kariba Dam. Critics however say that lack of proper planning and poor management of the Kariba Dam has led to the current power supply problems which have rocked both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), through its subsidiary Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), allegedly exhausted its water usage limits by huge volumes resulting in an unprecedented decline of water levels in the dam. Zimbabwe’s current electricity need per day amounts to 2,200 megawatts but the country is generating less than half the requirement.

Cabinet minister Undenge has been under criticism for fire allegedly failing to improve electricity supplies in the country and subsequently failing to establish new power generation projects. The Harare government has however agreed on billion-dollar deals with China for the upgrade of a number of power plants. The projects are expected to be completed over the next few years.

March 2017

Zimbabwe and Zambia hosted a conference to boost the construction of the Batoka hydropower plant

In a bid to raise more than $4 billion to construct the Batoka hydropower plant, Zimbabwe and Zambia will jointly host an investment conference in Livingstone, later in March. The two governments have already started mobilizing funds for the project with road shows conducted in Paris, Beijing, Johannesburg, Harare, and Lusaka in 2016.

The Batoka Hydro Power Plant is expected to generate 2400 megawatts upon completion of the project. The feasibility studies for the project were being finalized and African Development Bank has been appointed as the lead financial advisor.

Zimbabwe Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge mentioned that despite a power deficit of 6000 megawatts in the region, by 2022, the region will be producing enough power for export. He added that the government of Zimbabwe is expecting the financial closure on the Hwange 7 and 8 expansion which will add 600 megawatts upon completion.

Zimbabwe will take advantage of its central location in the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) grid, in the provision of electricity and exporting power to other SADC member states. It was advised that SAPP needs to take advantage of the support given by the World Bank in the fast implementation of the power projects, as the pace for commissioning new projects is still slow.

Zimbabwe is currently implementing the Kariba South Extension project, by adding two more generators which will add 300 MW to the national grid. The first unit is expected to be commissioned in December 2017 and the second in March 2018. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority is also strengthening its national transmission capacity by constructing 2 new 400Kv power lines, the Triangle-Orange Groove in the eastern part of the country and Alaska-Sherwood in the central region.

Sadc is committed to energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources.

Feb 2018

Zimbabwe’s Batoka Hydropower project to get GE support

Zimbabwe’s Batoka Hydropower project will receive support from the American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE). The company’s top executives recently appeared before parliament’s committee on mines and energy and have expressed their willingness to invest in aviation, locomotives, power, and healthcare reports the African Independent.

The delegates included Serame Toukobong, the chief marketing officer of GE global operations for sub-Saharan Africa, director of project development Reginald Max and risk leader for Africa Todd Johnson.

According to Max, they want to provide financial and technical support to the government because Zimbabwe is facing challenges because of limited financial resources. “We want to demonstrate to the world that there are opportunities in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Investments in hydropower

Max is optimistic that GE’s goodwill visit will culminate in investment opportunities. “We want to engage in the Batoka Power Plant, which is a game-changer for Zimbabwe. We also want to install mini hydro-power stations because Zimbabwe is blessed with a large density of dams,” he added.

Max further highlighted that GE had previously supplied turbines and generators and played a key role in the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Kariba South power station. It has also worked at Hwange Power Station in close partnership with power utility Zesa Holdings.

April 2018

AfDB provides support for the Batoka Hydroelectric project

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has provided support for the Batoka Hydroelectric project, in terms of advising how funds can be secured for the construction of the 2,400MW Power Project.

According to Elizabeth Karonga, the Public relations and communications manager at the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the bank is advising the authority on raising funds for the project and it is likely that it will reach financial closure by the end of the year.

The conclusion of the legal and financial advisory studies was in July 2016. This also applies to the environmental and social impact assessment studies as well as the legal and financial advisory studies.

Furthermore, Karonga says studies show that once the construction of the Batoka Hydroelectric Project between Zambia and Zimbabwe commences, it will see a creation of 6,000 jobs.

Nov 2018

US $5.2bn Batoka Gorge hydro electricity project to commence

Construction is set to commence on a US $5.2bn Batoka Gorge hydro electricity project expected to generate 2,200MW of power capacity, following a meeting held between Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa and officials from the main contractors, General Electric and Power China.

President Mnangagwa pointed out that the project is being implemented under the auspices of the Zambezi River Authority(ZRA), a bi-national organization mandated to operate, monitor and maintain the Kariba Dam Complex as well as exploit the full potential of the Zambezi River.


He added that a presentation would be done by the consortium in Zimbabwe within the week and upon completion, the construction would begin. The generated power would be shared equally between Zimbabwe and Zambia, who endorsed the deal.

“I wrote to President Edgar Lungu proposing that a consortium of Power China and General Electric be contracted to work on the project which has been outstanding since 1972 when it was first proposed. President Lungu graciously agreed. The consortium is set to make a presentation to us here in Zimbabwe so the project can begin,” said President Mnangagwa.

Matthew Nkhuw, Minister of Energy, had earlier reported that a feasibility study is being carried out and the project is estimated to take 10 years to be fully complete

March 2019

Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric power project in Zambia to begin this year

Construction of Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station in Zambia is set to begin by the end of this year after a selection of a winning contractor in six months’ time.

Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo announced the reports and said that once negotiations with the contractor are completed, construction will begin in earnest.

“We have been meeting as the Zambezi River Authority, looking at the progress on the implementation of the project and as we all know, any project has developmental stages. Construction will only begin after the selection of the project developer by September this year,” said Engineer Magombo.

Contractor’s responsibility

Three shortlisted contractors; Salini Impregilo of Italy; a joint venture of China Three Gorges Corporation, China International and Water Electric Corporation and China Gezhouba Group Company Limited, and another consortium of US-based General Electric (GE) and Power Construction Corporation of China were requested for proposals which require companies to place bids for a project’s completion. Nine contractors had initially expressed interest in the project.

The shortlisted contractors will be responsible for the relevant preparatory study reports  which include the Engineering Feasibility Study; the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA); and Legal and Financial Transaction Advisory Services (LFTA)

“The first stage is project preparation, where you do the feasibility studies, engineering studies, and the environmental impact assessments, and that is the stage that we have been working on,” said Magombo.

Jun 2019

US-China and Italy to construct US $4bn Batoka Gorge hydropower station

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has shortlisted the US, China, and Italy for contracts 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 the 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.

According to the CEO, they are almost concluding the engineering feasibility study on the project while the environmental impact assessment study has been finalized and the document will 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.

Jul 2019

Zambia, Zimbabwe signs US $5bn deal for Batoka Gorge hydroelectricity project

Zimbabwe and Zambia have agreed on principles for the US $5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity project secured by Harare, paving the way for a technical meeting this week between experts from two the countries.

Zimbabwe recently received an expression of interest from General Electric Africa to undertake the 1 600MW power project along the Zambezi River, co-owned with Zambia. The project will ease power shortages in Zimbabwe and Zambia, with a huge potential to supply other regional countries.

Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa said that three companies have already applied to do the project and they are assessing their capability. The project is going to create 6,000 jobs.

Surplus power

The development comes as Zimbabwe has set in motion a number of electricity generation projects. These will see the country produce surplus power in the next five years. President Mnangagwa recently launched the US $1.5 bn Hwange Power Station Unit 7 and 8 construction project which will add 600MW to the national grid.

The project comes after the successful completion of the Kariba South expansion venture that has an output of 300MW. Zimbabwe has also secured an investor for a coal-bed methane gas project in Matabeleland North Province.

Share electricity

The country is currently producing about 1 200MW of electricity against a demand of 1 400MW during peak periods. Under the Batoka project, Zimbabwe and Zambia will share the electricity equally when generation commences.

Project specifications by the Zambezi River Authority show the scheme will be undertaken on a build, operate and transfer basis upstream of the Kariba Dam hydroelectric scheme. The scheme is designed as a run-of-the-river scheme with an estimated average energy generation of 8 700GWh/year.

Jul 2019

ZRA awards tender for construction of Batoka Hydroelectric power plant

The Zambezi River Authority’s (ZRA) Council of Ministers has awarded the tender for the construction of the Batoka hydroelectric power plant to a consortium of General Electric of the United States and Power Construction Corporation of China under a build, operate and transfer funding model.

Formerly, the contractor was supposed to be chosen in September by the council which consists of ministers accountable for energy and finance in Zimbabwe and Zambia. However, there was a shortage of power which affected both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Therefore there was an immediate need to award the tender to a company that was ready to handle the construction in order to speed up the process.

Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi, and his Finance and Economic Development partner, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Zambia’s Energy Minister, Matthew Nkhuwa, and his Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe, were part of the ZRA council of ministers that granted the tender after signing a statement on behalf of both governments. The statement stressed the need for quick action in order to solve the power shortage.

Jul 2019

Construction of US $4bn Batoka hydropower project to begin next year

Zambia and Zimbabwe have announced that construction works of the Batoka Gorge hydropower plant which they co-share will commence next year.

According to a statement from the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), feasibility studies are almost complete. Once engaged, the developer is expected to commence work in the last quarter of 2020.

GE and Power China are in a consortium that was shortlisted in February to build the facility. The project involves the construction of a dam, powerhouses, roads, transmission infrastructure, and houses in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Each powerhouse of the facility will be installed with six 200MW hydroelectric turbines. The catchment area of the reservoir will be 508,000km², while four intakes will be built to send water to both the power plants through 4 km-long tunnels.

A crest-type spillway with 12 radial gates will be constructed to ensure the controlled release of flow from the reservoir. Measuring 13m tall and 14 m wide, the spillway’s design discharge capacity will be 20,000m³/s.

Construction works are 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 financial strain on the two governments. As a result, no sovereign guarantees would be needed.

Nov 2020

Zambia-Zimbabwe: Preliminary works for Batoka Gorge hydroelectric dam commence

The preliminary construction works on the 2 400MW Batoka Gorge hydroelectric dam developed by the government of Zambia in collaboration with that of Zimbabwe have begun in preparation for the full implementation of the mega electricity generation scheme.

This was revealed by Dr. Gloria Magombo, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe who also co-chairs the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) board with her Zambian counterpart, Mr. Trevor Kaunda.

Speaking during the virtual launch of the ZRAs 2020-2024 strategy, Dr Magombo said that the work is being carried out by a consortium made up of Power China International Group Ltd and General Electric.

Power China is a Chinese-based enterprise engaged in renewable energy and the development of hydropower resources while General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate that operates in aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, and venture capital and finance sectors. The consortium won the contract in July last year.

Dec 2020

Construction of US $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme to begin soon

Construction of the US $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) in Southern Africa is set to begin soon. The ongoing Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is set to be completed on 11th Dec to pave the way for the implementation of the project.

A consortium of Chinese and U.S. companies has already been awarded the tender to build the 2,400MW Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) under a Build, Operate and Transfer funding model. Power generated from the plant will be shared equally by Zimbabwe and Zambia under the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).

The authority recently announced that it will give equal job opportunities to citizens of Zimbabwe and Zambia when construction begins. This was after reports emerged that some unscrupulous individuals in Zimbabwe had started “recruiting” personnel for the forthcoming work at a fee.

Illegal registration of workers

According to ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa, the said registration is reportedly taking place in some riparian communities within the project area in Zimbabwe. “People purporting to be recruitment agents appointed by the authority or the developer are illegally registering and collecting monies from unsuspecting members of the public especially those that are resident in Hwange, Jambezi, and other villages and townships. I advise inhabitants of the said riparian communities to be vigilant and guard against such people and report them to law enforcement agencies,” he said.

He further added that all employment opportunities, that is, professional, skilled, and unskilled will be publicized through the mass media and traditional leadership in the project area when the project construction works approach commencement.

Jul 2023

Financial adviser appointed for Batoka Gorge hydropower project

A lead financial adviser has reportedly been appointed for the planned US$ 5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme, commonly known as the Batoka Gorge hydropower station.

The adviser, the African Development Bank, is therefore expected to find an attractive model for funders according to Munyaradzi Munodawafa. The latter is the chief executive officer of the Zambezi River Authority.

The appointment of the AfDB comes at a time when financing costs for the Batoka Gorge hydropower station project are on the rise. The project was initially expected to cost approximately US$ 2.5bn in 2015, an estimate that has apparently increased by 50%.

According to Munodawafa sovereign defaults by Zambia and Zimbabwe have escalated the cost by approximately 23%. Macroeconomic factors have also been attributed to the higher price tag.

“Owing to the current market trends and inflationary issues all over the world, the price of the implementation of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme is not expected to go down, it is only expected to go up,” explained the chief executive officer of the Zambezi River Authority.

Moreover, Munodawafa revealed that there were plans to install a floating solar power facility on the surface of the Batoka Gorge dam. The solar power facility will generate electricity that will supplement the electricity produced by the 2.4GW hydropower plant.