via Expedite Batoka project: Govt | The Herald December 21, 2015
THE Batoka and Kariba hydroelectric projects on the Zambezi River must be expedited as they have the capacity to produce 5 000 megawatts and solve the energy crisis in the Sadc region. This came out at the Council of Ministers Meeting between Zimbabwe and Zambia governments on Friday.
The Council of Ministers is made up of Energy and Finance Ministers as well as Attorney- Generals from the two countries who are charged with overseeing the implementation of the Batoka and Kariba Dam rehabilitation projects that are shared by the two countries under the auspices of Zambezi River Authority.
The meeting also approved ZRA budget of $72 million for 2016 up from $40 million in 2015 while projected power generation capacity for the Batoka project had also been increased to a combined 2 400 megawatts for the two countries, up from 800MW each.
Coming out of a meeting held at a hotel in Livingstone, Zambia, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge, who is the chair of the council of ministers, said the projects should be expedited.
“We had a Council of Ministers meeting preceded by the board of directors to review the situation regarding ZRA activities. The meeting was successful as we reviewed the performance of the organisation and its activities,” said Minister Undenge.
“We want to ensure work on Batoka starts soon. We are looking at getting the feasibility study report in March and then start engaging contractors and we hope the process will be completed end of next year.”
The Batoka hydroelectric project spearheaded by the two governments through ZRA has been on the cards for decades and Minister Undenge said further delays would attract more costs.
A total of $4,25 billion is needed for the project while the Kariba rehabilitation requires $294,2 million.
The money has since been secured from development partners such as AFDB ($75 million), EU ($100 million), Sida ($25 million), WB ($75 million) and ZRA ($19,2 million).
Said Minister Undenge: “We are all excited by the project in view of the power crisis which the region is facing. We need such big projects to take off because without power there is no economic life.
“There are similar projects elsewhere, but there are only two big rivers in the region — Zambezi River and Congo River which suffices to say it is critical to maximise use of Zambezi because that can give the region 5 000MW.”
Over the years, Zimbabwe has been battling acute electricity shortages due to antiquated equipment and lack of investment in power generation projects and lately the whole Sadc region is affected.