George Maponga in Masvingo
Feasibility studies on the construction of the $3 billion Batoka Hydro Power plant on the Zambezi River by Zimbabwe and Zambia have shown that the project will generate 2 400 megawatts, up from the previously projected 1 600MW.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said in an interview last Thursday that the two countries will share the power equally.
Speaking to The Herald on the sidelines of the commissioning of a rural electrification project in Gutu, Masvingo, Dr Undenge said work on the plant was set to commence soon.
“Work on the Batoka Hydro Power plant will start any time from now after the completion of feasibility studies, that actually revealed that the plant has the capacity to produce 800 megawatts more than earlier thought,’’ he said.
“The World Bank was involved in the funding of the feasibility studies for the Batoka project and the contractors managed to successfully complete the exercise, paving the way for work on the project to kick-off.”
Dr Undenge said Zimbabwe and Zambia had already struck a deal on payment modalities for the $30 million Central African Power Corporation (Capco) debt that Harare owes its northern partner which is threatening work on the joint project.
The Capco debt was for the shared cost of the Kariba Dam construction and associated infrastructure in the early 1950s.
It also included proceeds of the sale of assets belonging to Capco, a power firm jointly owned by Zimbabwe and Zambia when the two countries were still members of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved in 1963.
Capco was running the Kariba power project for the two countries, but was disbanded in 1987.
“We have agreed with the Zambians on the payment plan for the Capco debt, and there are no more problems between us that can hinder us from jointly working on the Batoka power project,’’ said Dr Undenge.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly construct the Batoka hydro plant.
The agreement on the project, situated about 50 kilometres downstream of the resort town of Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, was initially stalled by the dispute over the Capco.
The Batoka project is expected to be built and operated by a private company.
Zimbabwe has already started investing in new power generation projects to ease electricity deficit with the expansion of Kariba South power station that will add 300MW to the national grid.
There are also plans to expand Hwange Power station by adding two units with a combined output of 600 megawatts.
Hwange Thermal Power Station produces 920MW, while Kariba produces 750MW when fully operational.