Selection and Procurement of Financiers and Contractors for the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Scheme will be transparent
By Chileshe Kandeta MoF
The investor conference on development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Project recently co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe on 30 March 2017 was over-subscribed in terms of attendance and interest, Finance Minister Felix Mutati has said.
“The conference was organized to market the project to potential financiers and investors following the preliminary feasibility study by Ernst and Young,” he said and added that, “through the event, the two Governments managed to stimulate initial indications of interest from financers and investors who would like to finance the estimated US$4 billion project.”
During the conference, the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, through the Zambia River Authority Council of Ministers, undertook to facilitate partnerships for the 2400 MW Batoka Hydro Electric Power Project; given the elevated power demand in the two countries and the whole SADC region. Zambia’s power demand is forecast to grow from the assessed 1,911MW in 2015 to a projected 5,508MW by 2035. Over the same period, demand in Zimbabwe may increase from 2,116MW to 5,301MW, respectively.
“The project will not only address the energy needs in the two countries but also contribute to addressing the regional power demand and actualisation of the two countries industralisation and regional integration agenda,” stated Mr. Mutati and he also said, “it is in this regard that the urgency and need to timely execute the project were stressed by the two Governments.”
The Batoka Investor Conference generated significant interest from both financiers and investors who expressed strong commitment to participate once the project procurement documents were finalized. The two Governments committed to a transparent bidding process which would ensure a competitive process and value for money. With regard to the environmental impact assessment for the project, an assurance was made to investors and local delegates that the project is designed in a manner that minimizes environmental impact and degradation.
“Due to sparse human habitation around the gorge area, the project will not have any adverse impact on the social and economic welfare of the people on either side of the Zambezi River,” assured Mr. Mutati when asked about the plight of the current inhabitants in the precinct of the gorge.
The Minister also said “as a way forward, a roadmap of various activities related to development and construction of the Batoka dam wall and the power stations on both sides will be developed in consultation with stakeholders on both sides of the river.”
The conference, which was recently held in Livingstone Zambia, was graced by the Zambian Vice President Mrs. Inonge Wina. Over 300 participants from key multilateral development banks; development finance institutions; commercial banks; investors and contractors from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe attended.
The conference was hosted by the Zambezi River Authority Council of Ministers comprising Ministers responsible for Finance, Energy, and Water in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. The aim of the conference was to market the potential for the Batoka Dam Wall and for the combined output of 2,400 Megawatts from Hydro Power Stations on both sides of the boarder, located 54 Kilometers downstream from the Victoria Falls. The conference also accorded Zambia an opportunity to reassure the international community that the country remains a welcoming and one of the best destinations for investment in Africa.
“The Batoka Hydro Electric Power Project is a flagship undertaking for job creation and infrastructure development which is why, our part as Zambians, there is need for concerted collaboration among all responsible Ministries to ensure success of resource mobilization and timely construction of the dam and the Hydro Power Station,” concluded Mr. Mutati when asked to give an overview of the conference.