Golden Sibanda : Senior Business Reporter
THE Zambia River Authority will soon embark on market sounding over the $4 billion Batoka Gorge hydro power project to inform and gauge market expectations before finalising the feasibility study and putting the project to tender. ZRA will sound out the financial markets in Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Paris (France) and Beijing (China). For Zimbabwe, funding secured from these efforts will help finance more projects to build further generation capacity.Batoka is a 2400 megawatt project being spearheaded by ZRA, which manages the affairs of Zimbabwe and Zambia; riparian states pursuing a second common generation site project.
The two neighbours currently generate power at Kariba, but separately on the northern and southern banks of Lake Kariba’s Dam wall.
The Batoka project is their next joint effort.
Energy and Power Development secretary Partison Mbiriri said last week that the authority, managing the river affairs of the riparian states, which are separated by Zambezi River, will soon sound out the market over the Batoka project.
The Batoka hydro power project, which will be situated at Batoka Gorge on the Zambezi River, is expected to generate at least 1 200MW on each side of the Zambezi river.
“We are expecting that Zambezi River Authority will be going on market sounding very soon and after that feasibility study will be finalised; then we will go into procurement process followed by implementation,” Mr Mbiriri said.
The Energy and Power development secretary said projects of Batoka’s nature, which entails construction of the dam wall, two pump stations with 1200 horse power each and power evacuation lines, demand exhaustive consultations to determine the needs and expectations of the project financiers.
“Once you are very clear as to the content of the project, substance of the project, bills of quantities and structure you want, it is wise to go to the market, to say we have this project we want to undertake, we want to undertake it in this way, we want to borrow this much over a 48 months period or six months period, what do you say?” Mr Mbiriri said.
This process allows the market to give advice, comments, ask questions to ensure clarity on market expectations and what the financial market can provide in funding the project.
Further, market sounding ensures clarity on all issues prior to finalisation of project documentation such that by the time of going to tender, the tendering is done in recognition of market expectations and not against its wishes.