Preparations for construction of Batoka Gorge hydropower plant intensify

HARARE: The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) disclosure process for the 4.5 billion U.S. dollars Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) has been completed, paving the way for the implementation of the project, an official said Thursday.
Chairperson of the Zambezi River Authority Council of Ministers, Zhemu Soda, who is also Minister of Energy and Power Development, made the disclosure during the 38th Council of Ministers virtual meeting held on Thursday.
“It is encouraging to learn that most of the preparatory works for the implementation of the scheme have been completed. This includes the updating of the 1993 engineering feasibility studies and the undertaking of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) studies which have culminated in the production of a draft ESIA report.
“In line with the environmental legal framework of the two contracting states and international best practice, the ESIA report was placed in the public domain in March 2020 as part of the public disclosure process and this was concluded on 25th January 2021,” Soda said.
He said upon the conclusion of the ESIA report public disclosure phase, the report will be updated taking into consideration stakeholder inputs.
“We accordingly look forward to the final ESIA report that should map the way forward in ensuring the sustainable implementation of this 4.5 billion U.S. dollars project,” he said.
Minister Soda added that apart from introducing over 4,000 direct and 6,000 in-direct jobs, the mega project will generate revenue of over 750 million U.S. dollars annually, which will consequently enhance the GDP of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
In 2019, a consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and U.S. firm General Electric won a bid to build the 2,400 MW hydropower station under a Build, Operate and Transfer funding model.
The power generated from the plant will be shared equally by the two countries.
The Zambezi River Authority is an organization jointly owned by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe mandated with managing the Kariba Dam, providing water for hydro-power generation as well as facilitating and overseeing the development of infrastructure along the Zambezi River for the benefit of the two countries.
“Our two governments remain committed to ensuring that the peoples of the republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe draw equal social and economic benefits from the development of the BGHES and indeed other projects under the Authority’s water storage infrastructure development plans covering other dam sites located along the stretch of the Zambezi river forming a common border between the two sister republics,” Soda said.

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