ENERGY ministers from Zimbabwe and Zambia will assess progress at the Batoka Gorge site for a new hydro electricity power station next week with particular interest in the ongoing feasibility studies currently underway.
The feasibility studies are expected to be completed by midyear and the contracting tenders are expected to be floated before the end of the year in time for construction to start early next year.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge told a Press briefing yesterday that the dream for the construction of the dam is slowly coming to fruition.
“There are plans to build Batoka Dam and that one will produce relatively cheap power. Since the 80s there has been talk about building the Batoka Dam and that dream is now coming into reality. The feasibility studies will be completed by mid-year,” said Mr Undenge.
Construction of the Batoka Dam is expected to start early next year.
“Next week, I am visiting the Batoka Gorge with my counterpart in Zambia so that we take an appreciation of what is taking place. We reckon that the beginning of next year construction of the Batoka Dam will start.
“That is why I am saying that we are closer to the fulfilment of the dream for the construction of the dam. Once construction starts it will take five years and we expect it to be completed by 2023,” he said.
Batoka will produce 2 400MW which will be shared equally between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Batoka project will be under the auspices of the Zambezi River Authority, a joint body between Zimbabwe and Zambia tasked with managing the Zambezi River stretch on behalf of the two nations.
The members of the authority are the energy and finance ministers and the attorney-generals from the two countries.
This year, Minister Undenge is chairing the authority.
While Minister Undenge was upbeat about the development of the Batoka Dam, he called on consumers to conserve electricity.
He said, energy conservation methods are critical especially for Zimbabwe which is facing a debilitating power crisis.
“In addition to the power generation projects that we are undertaking, we are placing emphasis on conservation of power. We have seen in the past that people leave lights on when they knock off. Some of the offices are Government buildings and some parastatals have big complexes like Runhare House. So if you can switch off your lights after work then you conserve electricity.
“We are also encouraging use of energy saving bulbs such as LED lamps. Led lights may be expensive to buy but last longer and you serve a lot of energy,” said Minister Undenge.
Zimbabwe is also pursuing renewable energy projects to minimise over-reliance on hydro and thermal power.
Three solar projects with a combined total of 300MW are expected on stream in the next two years.