Zim, Zambia sign $294m grants for Kariba

KARIBA-DAM-WALLMartin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe and Zambia last week signed loan and grant facilities worth $294 million with various development partners for the rehabilitation of Kariba Dam wall.

The European Union and Sweden have granted $100 million and $25 million for the project respectively. The World Bank has extended $75 million loan while the African Development Bank chipped in with another $39 million. Apart from the loan, AfDB also provided a grant of $36 million. The balance will come from Zambezi River Authority.

Kariba Dam is located on the Zambezi River, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and is managed by the ZRA, a bi-national organisation formed by the two countries.

The repairs on the dam wall are meant to improve safety and reliability of the Kariba Dam, which generates about 1 800 megawatts of electricity for Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The rehabilitation, which will extend the dam’s lifespan by 100 years, is expected to begin later this year after the completion of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment .The rehabilitation programme would take 10 years to complete.

Some of the repairs to be undertaken include supporting the reshaping of the plunge pool, refurbishment of the spillways and enhancing operations to bring them in line with international dam safety standards. This is the first rehabilitation of the dam in more than five decades since construction was completed in 1959.

The ZRA had expressed concerns that failure to repair the dam could lead to gradual dilapidation of key safety standards to levels below internationally acceptable standards.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa signed on behalf of Zimbabwe while Zambia Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda signed on behalf of Zambia at a ceremony attended by senior Government officials from both countries and representatives from the development partners.

“Rehabilitating the Kariba Dam wall, which was built in the 1950s, will undoubtedly benefit our two nations,” Minister Chinamasa said.

“The safety of the dam wall preserves the ecosystem along the Zambezi River, its banks, existing power stations as well as upholding the construction and the existence of the Batoka Gorge hydropower station project.”

He said it was clear that the region would not achieve sustainable development without reliable and affordable energy.

“This is the main reason why we continue to prioritise investment in power generation and transition infrastructure in our countries’ development agendas,” said Minister Chinamasa.

EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Zambia Gilles Hervio described the deals as “a good example of co-operation”.

The rehabilitation will support the development strategy of the Southern African Power Pool, a framework established in 1995 to provide regional solutions to electricity generation for the member states of the Southern African Development Community.

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