AfDB named lead coordinator for 2,400-MW Batoka Gorge hydropower project in Africa

The governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe appointed the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, last week, as lead coordinator for the 2,400-MW Batoka Gorge hydropower project, which is estimated to cost US$6 billion, according to AfDB.

The Batoka Gorge construction phase is expected to begin later this year or in early 2018 under an arrangement between Zambezi River Authority (ZRA). In 2016, HydroWorld.com reported both governments named AfDB lead financial adviser for the project.

The project will be located about 34 mi downstream from Victoria Falls and consist of a roller-compacted-concrete gravity arch dam 181 m high that impounds a reservoir with a catchment area of 508,000 km2. The site will feature two underground powerhouses, one on each river bank, each with a capacity of 800 MW.

Earlier this year during the 34th session of the Zambezi River Authority Council of Ministers meeting in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe, the Zambia Business Times reported Zambia’s Finance Minister, Felix Mutati, said constructing the facility would create jobs.

“During the construction phase, 6,000 jobs will be created and a further 1,200 permanent green jobs during the operational phase, split equally between [Zambia and Zimbabwe],” Mutati said.

AfDb said, the Bataka Gorge project is being constructed by the ZRA, which develops, operates, monitors and maintains hydropower projects along the Zambezi River shared by the two Southern African countries.

The Batoka Gorge project is in line with objectives of AfDB’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, a program that is targeting increased access to energy.

AfDB and the New Deal on Energy for Africa

AfDB said the New Deal on Energy for Africa is a partnership-driven effort with the goal of achieving universal access to energy in Africa by 2025. The bank said it will invest $12 billion in the power sector over the next five years and aims to leverage $45-50 billion from the private sector.

To drive and achieve this goal, AfDB is working with governments, the private sector and bilateral and multilateral energy sector initiatives to develop the Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa, which is a platform for public-private partnerships for innovative financing in Africa’s energy sector.

To reach the goal, AfDB said Africa must achieve four targets:

  • Increase on-grid generation to add 160 GW of new capacity by 2025; 
  • Increase on-grid transmission and grid connections that will create 130 million new connections by 2025, 160 per cent more than today; 
  • Increase off-grid generation to add 75 million connections by 2025, 20 times what we have today; and 
  • Increase access to clean cooking energy for around 130 million households.

According to AfDB, more than 645 million Africans have no access to electricity. Power consumption per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest of all continents, currently estimated annually at 181 kWh, compared to 6,500 kWh in Europe and 13,000 kWh in the U.S.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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