Zimbabwe, Zambia court investors for 1,600-MW Batoka

Zimbabwe and Zambia have begun seeking investors and a technical partner to develop the 1,600-MW Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project on their common border, the Zambezi River.

Zimbabwe’s Business Chronicle reported officials of Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) outlined the US$3 billion project recently to the Zimbabwe Institute of Management in Bulawayo, saying Batoka is a key long-term solution to both countries’ power shortages.

�The Batoka project is one of the long-term investments that if fully implemented will result in increased electricity capacity generation,� a ZESA document on the state of power supplies said. �Although feasibility studies are in progress, adequate funding is required. However, relevant authorities are working towards ensuring that project becomes a reality.�

The document said the project could only succeed if a technical partner is found. With the feasibility studies under way, it was hoped project work could begin before 2008.

Zimbabwe is courting investors from Russia and China, the Chronicle said, adding that the African Development Bank is understood to be assessing viability of the project.

Initial designs have proposed a roller-compacted-concrete gravity arch dam, with a height of 181 meters, a crest length of 766.5 meters, and forming a reservoir with a volume of 4.08 million cubic meters. The net head at the hydro site would be 166.5 meters.

Similar powerhouses have been designed for both sides of the dam. Each would have four 200-MW units, using vertical-shaft Francis turbine-generators, giving the full facility a 1,600-MW capacity. The annual mean energy output would be 8,739 GWh.

At one time Zimbabwe had planned to proceed alone with its half of the project. However, the Chronicle reported ownership disagreements had been resolved between the two countries.

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