Zambezi River Authority reviews Batoka plan


former energy and power development minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire

AN institution tasked by the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments to oversee the construction of the 2 400 megawatt (MW) Batoka hydroelectric power station on the Zambezi River says it has started reviewing project documents ahead of implementation.

In 2014, ZRA engaged an Italian firm to update the feasibility studies for the proposed bi-national Batoka Gorge Hydro-electric project, according to former energy and power development minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire.

The Batoka plant is expected to cost US$4,5 billion on completion.

“In developing the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme, the authority together with advisors, are currently reviewing and updating the engineering feasibility studies and environmental and social impact assessment, as well as developing possible financial and commercial development modes,” said the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).

Studio Pietrangeli, a consulting engineering firm from Italy, had won the bid ahead of five other companies that entered the race.

The project’s feasibility studies had been initially undertaken by Batoka Joint Venture Consultants when plans for the project were mooted 20 years ago.

The Rome-headquartered firm, which specialises in engineering services for large dams and hydro power plants, was expected to commence work in 2014.

The company, which has to date successfully completed work on over 160 dams and 60 hydro power plants around the world, also has branches in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Ecuador and Ethiopia.

The company’s works of note in Africa include the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance project which is one of the largest hydro-electric power plants in Africa producing 6 000 MW of electricity.

It has also done feasibility studies for Ethiopia’s Gibe 111 which is the world’s highest Roller Compacted Concrete dam which is about 240 metres high with an associated power plant producing 1 870MW of electricity in Ethiopia.

It is part of a series of dams which include Gibe 1 (184MW) and Gibe 11 (420MW).

The Batoka project has been in the pipeline since 1992.

When completed, it will boost power for the two countries that are facing electricity shortages.

Zimbabwe is working on the US$553 million expansion project at Kariba power station.

“As part of this development, the authority intends to, through a market sounding process, engage with market potential participants (equity providers, debt providers and construction contractors or technical services providers) to solicit feedback on possible transaction and commercial development,” the statement added.

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