By Tichaona Kurewa
THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) says plans for the construction of a dam and 2 400 megawatt Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme (BGHES) on the Zambezi River are progressing well with the ground breaking ceremony expected next year.
The Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme, which is set to be commissioned around 2030, is expected to boost economic development in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Located 40 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls, the project cost is pegged at about US$5 billion, according to Zambezi River Authority.
Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa says work is going according to plan with the technical feasibility having already been done. The environment social impact assessment is now with regulatory bodies in Harare and Lusaka and a potential developer has been identified.
“We almost done in terms of environmental impact assessment in that. The document is done and is now awaiting the regulatory authorities to give what we can call a thumbs up. We now have a likely developer, so what is left with this developer is for us to have a development agreement and from the works we have done, we expect that a development agreement should be signed in within this 2022.
“With all that in mind, there is no reason for us for not requesting are very supportive Heads of State of Zimbabwe and Zambia to do a ground breaking ceremony in the second quarter of 2023,” Munodawafa said.
Experts say the construction of the BGHES must be expedited as electricity is a key economic enabler
Economist Nevison Bara noted: “Upon completion, this scheme will result in the reduction of electricity tariffs for the both domestic and industrial use. Eventually, there could be a reduction on the prices of goods and services.”
“The mining and industrial sectors thrive on the availability of power, so with this scheme on board, there will be reduced or no load shedding at all,” explained Charles Muchabaiwa, a mining expert.
ZRA is a bilateral organisation equally owned by Harare and Lusaka and is undertaking the development of the BGHES.