Zambia, DRC start work on new hydro project

By Tichaona Kurewa

VICTORIA FALLS- ZAMBIA’S ZESCO Limited and SNEL of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have started work to construct a new 1,000 megawatt hydro power station to be situated on the Luapula River on the border of the two Southern African countries.

Zambia and the DRC last year signed an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding for the construction of a new hydro power plant to avert power shortages currently affecting the region partly due to reduced water levels at Kariba Dam.

ZESCO and SNEL, which were mandated to action by Lusaka and Kinshasa, have contracted the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) as the implementing agent for the project.

“The objective of this assignment is to carry out and develop a bankable feasibility study, complete up to tender, design and documentation for the development of the Luapula River Hydroelectric power scheme and associated transmission lines to evacuate the power to both countries,” SAPP said calling for Expression of Interest for Consultancy Services for the Feasibility Studies for the proposed Luapula River Hydro-Electric Scheme.

“The existence of a bankable feasibility study would allow mobilisation of the required resources for the development of the scheme and contribute to addressing the prevailing power supply shortages that the two countries face.”

Funding for the project has been sourced from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Project Preparation and Development Facility (PPDF) (acting through its agent the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), being the fund manager) with funding from the KFW Development Bank and the World Bank.

The hydropower potential of the Luapula River has been under consideration for some time, one of the earlier reports was published in 1929.

SAPP was created with the primary aim to provide reliable and economical electricity supply to the consumers of each of the SAPP members, consistent with the reasonable utilisation of natural resources and the effect on the environment. It is in the process of changing from operating in a cooperative pool to a competitive pool.

With the current installed generation capacity amounting to 58,000 MW, the region still faces a deficit due to the electricity demand and the reserve required.

Most Southern African countries are making strides to improve power generation in the region with numerous projects at various levels of completion in the Southern African Development Community.

This year, the Southern Africa region planned to commission new power projects that are expected to add 3,059 megawatts of power, as the region strives to meet its energy requirements by 2020.

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