China to lend US$300 million to renew Zambia’s 600-MW Kariba North

China is to lend US$300 million to Zambia for renovation of the 600-MW Kariba North hydroelectric project on the Zambezi River.

President Levy Mwanawasa said the deal was part of agreements signed by Mwanawasa and Chinese President Hu Jintao during Hu’s visit to Zambia, part of a multi-nation tour of Africa. In addition to the funds for Zambia’s largest power generator, China is to provide US$96 million to improve Zambia’s rural telecommunications infrastructure, the state-owned Zambian Daily Mail reported.

Mwanawasa told journalists that one of the eight deals he signed with Hu included an interest free loan, but did not give details. Mwanawasa said the money would be provided by the Export-Import Bank of China, which has a branch in the southern African country of 11.5 million.

“Exim Bank of China will give Zambia a loan of US$300 million for the improvement of the Kariba North Bank,” the newspaper quoted Mwanawasa as saying. �Exim will also give Zambia another loan of US$96 million for the improvement of telecommunication facilities.”

Mwanawasa said during a joint news conference with Hu that China had pledged to pump US$800 million into Zambia over three years, starting this year.

The four-unit Kariba North was commissioned in 1976-1977 and has been undergoing rehabilitation since 2000. In 2005, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a 7.6 million euro (US$9.37 million) loan to Zambia on for rehabilitation of two additional generating units of Kariba North.

At that time, EIB’s loan approval statement said the turnkey contractor for the ongoing refurbishment of Kariba North, Alstom, would continue as contractor for rehabilitation of Units 3 and 4.

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