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Batoka Gorge hydroelectric scheme, Zambia and Zimbabwe – update

Image of sluice gates at an hydroelectric power station

29th March 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Batoka Gorge hydroelectric scheme (BGHES).

Location
On the Zambezi river, 47 km downstream of the Victoria Falls, on the Zambia and Zimbabwe borders.

Project Owner/s
Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which comprises the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation and the ministries of energy from both countries.

Project Description
The proposed 2 400 MW project involves the construction of a hydroelectric scheme on the Zambezi river, across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The project comprises a 175-m-high dam wall and two 1 200 MW power plants on either side of the river. The project also includes transmission lines, access roads and project townships in Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as ancillary infrastructure such as quarries, spoils and batching areas.

The project is designed as a run-of-river scheme with an estimated average energy generation of 8 700 GWh/y.

Potential Job Creation
The project is expected to create 8 000 construction jobs and 1 500 operational jobs.

Capital Expenditure
The cost of the project has been estimated at $5-billion; however, the actual cost will be known only after the feasibility has been completed.

Planned Start/End Date
The project could begin producing electricity from the second half of 2028.

Latest Developments
According to officials, Zambia and Zimbabwe are retendering the project to build a hydropower plant that they previously awarded to General Electric Co and Power Construction Corp of China, and expect to select new bidders by September 2025, Reuters has reported.

ZRA expected to receive bids from potential developers by April 2025 and select bidders five months after that, ZRA CEO Munyaradzi Munodawafa responded in an email to Reuters.

Work on the 2 400 MW Batoka Gorge project was initially scheduled to begin in 2020, but it encountered several delays, including the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and difficulties in securing funding. In June 2023, Zambian Energy Minister Peter Kapala said the country would exit the 2019 contract with GE and Power China because proper procurement methods were not followed when the deal was struck.

ZRA has allocated eight-billion cubic meters of water to Zambian power utility Zesco and its Zimbabwe Power Co counterpart, which equates to 214 MW for the two companies respectively until year-end.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
None stated.

Contact Details for Project Information
ZRA, tel +260 211 226950 or email info@zambezira.org.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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