Reports say Zambia, Zimbabwe may issue fresh tenders for $5 billion Batoka power project


Zambia and Zimbabwe are said to be retendering a US$5 billion project to build a hydropower plant they previously awarded to General Electric Co. and Power Construction Corp. of China.

According to a Bloomberg report tracked by Zambia Monitor on Monday the two countries expect to select new bidders by September next year, quoting an official.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) is a joint venture between the countries that maintain the Kariba Dam complex.

ZRA Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, was quoted saying he expected to receive bids from potential developers by April 2025 and select bidders five months after that.

Work on the 2,400-megawatt Batoka Gorge project was initially scheduled to begin in 2020, but it encountered several delays, including the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties in securing funding.

Read more: Zambia renews hope in Batoka hydro power project, as funding stalls progress

In June, Zambian Energy Minister, Peter Kapala, was believed to have said the nation would exit the 2019 contract with GE and Power China because proper procurement methods were not followed when the deal was struck.

“Additional hydroelectric schemes will facilitate reservoir regulation for power generation and flood management,” Munodawafa said.

“This means generation will be increased at Batoka during the peak season while water will be banked at the Kariba Dam for use during the dry season.”

Munodawafa said water levels at Kariba, which straddles Zambia and Zimbabwe, were expected to keep receding due to poor rainfall although he ruled out decommissioning the dam.

ZRA had allocated 8 billion cubic meters of water to Zambian power utility Zesco Limited and its Zimbabwe Power Company counterpart, which translates to 214 megawatts respectively for the two companies until year-end.

He expressed believe that Batoka would serve as a mitigation measure to some of the hydrological problems at Kariba, while at the same time directly contributing “a significant increase to the desperately needed power supply capacity of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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