Batoka Dam deal expected to go ahead
by Judith Hara
ZAMBIA and Zimbabwe have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly construct the 1,650 mega watts Batoka Hydro-power project which is estimated to cost in excess of US$4 billion.
Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma confirmed the development in Lusaka yesterday, saying the agreement was signed during the Council of Ministers which was held at Kariba in Siavonga last weekend.
Recently, the Zimbabwean government agreed to pay off more than $70 million it owes Zambia for the sale of the Central African Power Corporation (CAPC) assets which were jointly owned by the two countries.
Mr Yaluma said the agreement was dependant on Zimbabwe’s commitment to pay off the debt it owed Zambia on time.
He said the two countries had agreed in principle and was now going into capital sourcing.
The minister said Government was already in talks with the possible funders, who would bankroll the project.
"This means that Zimbabwe will have to pay off the debt without defaulting and this is expected to be paid within a period of three years," Mr Yaluma said.
Plans for the project were initially mooted in 1993, but the Zambian Government was reluctant because of the outstanding debts which it wanted Zimbabwe to clear first.
The proposed Batoka Power project site is located below the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River and once completed would boost power supply in the two countries.
Mr Yaluma said the Government had mandated Zambezi River Authority and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company to commence and conduct a feasibility study.
He said the project was expected to commence soon when all logistics were in place.
The meeting was attended by the Attorney General, Finance and Energy ministers from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.