Fungi Kwaramba in KINSHASA, DRC
ZIMBABWE is edging closer to addressing its energy needs in the long term through the joint construction of the Batoka Gorge hydro power station with Zambia.
This comes as the country is battling to meet its electricity needs due to increased demand for power particularly from mining projects, both old and new, and also rapid industrialisation in tune with the country’s target to become an upper middle class economy by 2030.
Taking his industrialisation and modernisation agenda to Sadc, President Mnangagwa yesterday met his Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema and discussed steps that will be undertaken to kickstart the Batoka Gorge hydro power station which is a 2.4GW run-of-the river hydroelectric project on the Zambezi River, with that output shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“We took this opportunity that we are both here in Kinshasa and we are neighbours. We decided to have a chat to share on issues of interest between Zimbabwe and Zambia, in particular, you all know about the Batoka Gorge which is a joint project between Zambia and Zimbabwe, so we were discussing how to move forward,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President added that they also reminisced about old times and the two countries’ long standing relations.
On his part, Mr Hichilema said the two sister republics will continue pursuing policies that resonate with their people.
“As His Excellency said we had a good catch-up meeting and discussed issues around the Batoka Gorge hydro power project which has been on and off, we would like to revive it, it is green energy,” he said.
Among other issues discussed were the Kazungula bridge, which is the quadripoint linking Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Zambia.
Also as the region steps up regional integration, the railway network linking the Sadc region was also up for discussion with the two leaders committing to modernising one of the cheapest modes of transport, which is now old in most Sadc nations and not sufficiently serving its purpose.
“I really want to thank His Excellency President Mnangagwa for taking the initiative for us to have a catch up meeting here and agree on how to move forward,” said Mr Hichilema.
In 2018, Zimbabwe and Zambia agreed to build a $4.5 billion hydroelectric scheme where the Zambezi river crosses their borders.
The project is expected to provide about a third of the two nations’ power needs.
Several companies including the African subsidiary of General Electrics are interested in developing the potential game changing project.
Although the idea to build a dam at the Batoka Gorge was considered in the 1990s, it has been in limbo for decades and is now being revived by President Mnangagwa.
The 42nd Sadc summit that ended yesterday was held under the theme, “Promoting Industrialisation through agro-processing, mineral beneficitation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth”.
President Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Frederick Shava and other senior Government officials, is expected back in the country today.