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Work on the much anticipated $5,2 billion Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity project will soon commence after President Mnangagwa met officials from the main contractors, General Electric and Power China yesterday.
The project, which is being implemented jointly with Zambia will generate about 2 200 megawatts which would be shared equally between the two countries. Writing in his weekly column on this paper and our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa revealed that prior to the meeting with the contractors, he had communicated with Zambian President, Edgar Lungu who had endorsed the deal.
“I wrote to President Edgar Lungu proposing that a consortium of Power China and General Electric be contracted to work on the project which has been outstanding since 1972 when it was first proposed. President Lungu graciously agreed. This week the consortium is set to make a presentation to us here in Zimbabwe so the project can begin. Once completed, the project will generate about 2 200 megawatts which will be shared equally between us and Zambia. With other power projects either completed, underway or planned, Zimbabwe is set to be a power surplus nation,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said there was also a need for the Government to move with speed in completing the deal where India committed $310 million towards the refurbishment of the Hwange Power Station to further augment power supplies in the country. Under the Batoka project, Zimbabwe and Zambia will share the electricity equally when generation commences.
The project is being implemented under the auspices of the Zambezi River Authority, a bi-national organisation mandated to operate, monitor and maintain the Kariba Dam Complex as well as exploit the full potential of the Zambezi River. Project specifications by the Zambezi River Authority show the scheme will be undertaken on a build, operate and transfer basis upstream of the Kariba Dam hydroelectric scheme.
“The proposed scheme includes a 181m high roller compacted concrete gravity arch dam, radial gated crest type spillway, two underground power stations on each side of the river with four 200 megawatt Francis turbines installed in each, giving a total capacity of 1 600 megawatts for the scheme,” states ZRA on its website.
Bringing Batoka Gorge on-stream will see Zimbabwe attain electricity self-sufficiency.
The country is producing about 1 300MW against demand of 1 900MW, with deficit being covered by imports from South Africa and Mozambique.
Meanwhile, the President has noted that the country should not be blinkered by it being land-locked but instead should work towards the development of infrastructure that will see it develop into a land-linked country. He said despite being land-locked Zimbabwe’s economy can still be efficiently linked and integrated within the region, the continent and globally through the improvement of communication infrastructure which include the country’s road, rail, air, pipeline, inland waterway and ICT assets.
He said this could see Zimbabwe easily becoming a sub-regional transport and communication hub. The President said this goal meant planning for an integrated regional transport link masterplan akin to one dubbed the Greater Mekong Subregion Communication Initiative in Southeast Asia which connects China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, with Laos as the hub.
“I am happy that on the sidelines of the recent African Union Extraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I conferred with President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on this possibility. Building on a prior meeting between him and President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Zimbabwe will soon host a ministerial meeting on how our three countries can cooperate towards investing in rail and pipeline links which will serve our countries and beyond. Thereafter, another meeting involving Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique will be convened to map out plans for a Southern Corridor. Already, Zimbabwe is working on its dry port facility at Walvis Bay in Namibia,” said President Mnangagwa.source: Bulawayo News