By LINDA SOKO TEMBO
ZAMBEZI River Authority (ZRA) is confident that construction of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) will take off next year.
The project is aimed at increasing power generation which is critical to economic development in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Speaking during the commemoration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Day, in Siavonga district on August 17, ZRA chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said the scheme would generate 2400MW to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP). In a speech read for him by ZRA director Christopher Chisense, Mr Munodawafa expressed happiness that SADC had chosen ZRA to host the important commemoration.
Mr Munodawafa said a developer had already been selected for the project which would cost between $4-6billion.
“The cost of the hydroelectric scheme will range between $4-6 billion, a developer has been selected and construction works will start next year. The construction will take six years but it will start generating power in the third year,” he said.
“We will be generating power while constructing the project,” he said.
Mr Munodawafa said it was out of the SADC spirit of cooperation that the new hydro power scheme was given a regional status, and extended to a continental status making mobilization of resources an easier task. “Today being a SADC Day, it is important that we not only celebrate the day but also recognize the importance of regional cooperation in the development of shared resources like the Zambezi River,” said Mr Munodawafa.
And Zimbabwean Ambassador to Zambia, Gertrude Takawira, said she was happy to be part of the commemoration as it reminded her of the shared vision the leaders in the region had back in 1980.
She said the leaders together envisioned a community that would ensure the economic well-being, improved standard of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, peace and security for the region.
Ms Takawira said the mighty Kariba dam, the main power generation station, had greatly benefited Zambia and Zimbabwe over the years.
“The dam has also been a source of livelihood for our two peoples. As you be aware, our two countries collaborate on various projects, which we are key in deepening the SADC regional integration agenda,” she said.