Zimbabwe, Zambia seal major power deal

By Staff reporter | 14 Jul 2019 at 19:01hrs
A CONSORTIUM of General Electric and Power Construction Corporation of China has been awarded the tender to develop the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme (BGHES) under a Build, Operate and Transfer funding model between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

A special Zambezi River Authority Council of Ministers meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, on Friday resolved to bring forward the selection of the contractors given the power shortages afflicting the two countries.

Initially the contractor was supposed to be selected in September. The COM consist of ministers responsible for energy and finance portfolios in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi and his Finance and Economic Development counterpart Professor Mthuli Ncube signed the communique on behalf of the Zimbabwean Government while Zambian Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa and his Finance counterpart Margaret Mwanakatwe signed on behalf of the Zambian government.

Negotiations with the consortium will commence immediately.

A communiqué released following the extraordinary meeting confirmed the development. "The Council of Ministers (COM) noted the commendable progress made on the programme for the development of the BGHES which was in accordance to plan," reads the communiqué in part.

"The COM, however, noted that the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe were currently facing a power crisis which was worsened by the 2017-2018 hydrological season where the rainfall received was below normal.

"As a result of this abnormal rainfall pattern of the current season coupled with the uncertainty associated with future rainfall patterns for the region, factors of which spell out the need to fast track measures to establish additional water storage and power generation infrastructure, there was, therefore, need for the two Governments to ensure that the implementation of the BGHES was expedited.

"In order to mitigate the current power crisis within the shortest possible time, the Governments of the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe have reached an emergency decision to award the development of the BGHES to the consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and General Electric on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) financial model.

"This is in order to ensure the future energy security of the two nations."

The communiqué further states that the COM resolved to implement measures that will ensure the power utilities in Zambia and Zimbabwe remain sustainable.

Energy secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo told The Sunday Mail yesterday that negotiations with the consortium will commence immediately.

"What we will do now is enter into negotiations with the consortium to thrash out the finer details as to how the project will be undertaken," she said.

"It is being done under a BOT arrangement and this will guide the negotiation process.

"Dates of commencement will crystallise when negotiations are complete."

The development comes as an international firm contracted to carry out an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the Batoka project has concluded that implementation of the project will not pose adverse effects on human settlement along the Zambezi River.

Batoka will generate 2 400MW of electricity to be shared equally between the two countries.



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