Batoka committee starts work
Harare – Zambia and Zimbabwe have set up a seven-member steering committee to work with the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to build the Batoka Gorge power plant.
The plant will be on the Zambezi River shared by the two countries, and is one of several energy projects that SADC has given priority as part of plans to deal with the region’s electricity deficit.
The plant will be on the Batoka Gorge downstream of Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe's Energy and Power Development Minister, Elton Mangoma, said the two countries contributed three members to the committee while the seventh was from the ZRA.
“The Zimbabwean team consists of one official each from the ministries of Finance and Energy and Power Development, and one from the Attorney-General’s Office,” Mangoma said.
He said Zambia presently held the rotational chairmanship of the committee.
The two countries share Kariba Dam and Power Station, also on the Zambezi River.
Zambia and Zimbabwe in December 2013 invited bids from prospective developers to construct the Batoka power plant at an estimated cost of US$4 billion under a build-operate-transfer arrangement.
The Batoka Gorge project includes construction of a dam and hydropower plant with capacity to generate 1 600MW for the two countries.
Construction of access roads linking the project site and the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway through Chisuma in Hwange District has begun and is expected to be completed within nine months.
Construction material for the Batoka hydro-electric project will be transported through these access roads.
The SADC region has experienced an electricity shortfall for about a decade now.
The region is focusing on several projects to address this deficit from immediate and long-term bases.
The SADC Energy Sector Plan calls for the region to increase power generation by more than 70 percent and invest at least US$170 billion over the next 15 years.
The plan identifies 73 power generation projects to increase generation from the current 56 000MW and ensure that the projected demand of 96 000MW is surpassed by 2027.