THE Council of Ministers of the Zambezi River Authority, the supreme bilateral body for the management of the Zambezi River and ancillary infrastructure, has expressed satisfaction with the progress on the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme.
On completion, the two planned power stations at Batoka Gorge are expected to generate a combined 2 400MW when the Zambezi River is in flood, although since the dam has little storage a lot less a low water. But with co-ordination with the Lake Kariba stations Batoka can take the main burden in the flood season, allowing the far larger dam to fill and so have enough water to run its stations flat out in the low-flow seasons.
The meeting also adopted ZRA’s US$403 944 supplementary budget for the remainder of 2020 to cover electricity and employment costs.
It adopted the authority’s 2020 to 2024 corporate strategy plan. Negotiations with the developer, Consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and General Electric, which were awarded the development contract are expected to start before the end of the year.
The Africa Legal Support Facility unit has since been engaged to provide legal, financial and technical resources in negotiations with the developer. A project negotiating team has undergone training on negotiation skills from the project transaction advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In a communique released after the virtual meeting in Lusaka, Zambia last week, the meeting, which brings together Ministers of Energy and of Finance plus the attorneys general from Zambia and Zimbabwe, noted some progress in the pre-commencement works despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
These include feasibility studies for the transmission infrastructure, bathymetric surveys and geotechnical investigations among others.
There was continued advisory support from the African Development Bank to the authority on the project and mobilisation of financial resources to finance the completion of the pre-development activities and completion of evaluation of submitted financial model, risk register, final demand analysis and economic analysis reports to the authority, leading to the refinement of project agreements to be entered into with the developer for the development of the scheme,” reads the communique.
Zimbabwe has since approved and gazetted the change of land use from communal to urban for the required works while granting of title for land in Zambia is in the final stages. This guarantees provision of project finance from the developer.
Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda, his Zambian counterpart Matthew Nkhuwa, Finance Ministers Professor Mthuli Ncube and Bwalya Ng’andu reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation and sustainability of ZRA operations.