UN agency clears US$5bn Batoka Gorge power project

An agency of the United Nations has cleared Zambia and Zimbabwe to build a $5 billion hydropower dam downstream from Victoria Falls, a Unesco World Heritage Site, the authority overseeing its construction said.

The 2 400 megawatt Batoka Gorge project, 47 kilometres from the world’s largest waterfall, has been opposed by environmentalists because of the potential impact it would have on the cataract, a key tourist site for both countries, that spans the Zambezi River.

Unesco “sent inspectors in 2022 after complaints by some environmentalists that the Batoka project was going to affect the Victoria Falls,” Munyaradzi Munodawafa, chief executive officer of the Zambezi River Authority, said in an interview.

They “looked at the reports and our presentations and agreed that Batoka could go ahead” at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee last month, he said.

Construction of the 181-metre (594-foot) high wall and power plants by a group led by General Electric Co, and China’s Power Construction had been expected to start in 2020 but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and funding concerns. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe, who already share the Kariba hydropower facility further east on the Zambezi, at times have struggled to meet their power needs.

“Now we are good to go” said Munodawafa. “We are on solid ground and by end of next month, I will have an actual date of commencement.” Unesco didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The African Development Bank is the lead arranger for the financing of Batoka, which has been designed as a run-of-river project, meaning that there will be little storage of water behind the turbines, minimising the impact on the Victoria Falls.

Munodawafa also said the US$130 million rehabilitation of a plunge pool below the wall of the Kariba dam, which holds back the world’s biggest artificial reservoir, is expected to be completed by early 2025.

Further downstream, in Mozambique, the AfDB is also advising on the US$4,5 billion, 1 500-megawatt Mphanda Nkuwa hydropower project.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Trending Issues 28 May 2024

Africa’s Future Lies in Its Own Hands President E.D. Mnangagwa’s advice that Africans should utilize their own resources to sustain their livelihoods and avoid relying on foreign aid is a wise and timely move that all Africans should embrace and act upon. In his address marking the 61st Africa Day commemorations, the President emphasized that […]

Read More

Zimbabwe Rwanda Hold Midterm Review Meeting of the 2nd Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation

Statement by Ambassador Albert R. Chimbindi, Rwanda Ambassador Albert R. Chimbindi, Co-chair and Head of Delegation of the Republic of Zimbabwe;H.E Charity Manyeruke, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Rwanda;Distinguished Government Officials from Zimbabwe and Rwanda. Please allow me to express my sincere appreciation for the kind hospitality and excellent arrangements extended to our delegation in this […]

Read More

Zimbabwe Launches Nationwide Consultations on Climate Change Bill

Harare, May 27, 2024 – Hon. Dr. Sithembiso G.G Nyoni, the Minister of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife, yesterday opened a critical meeting in Harare. This event starts the nationwide discussions on the draft Climate Change Management Bill and the Zimbabwe Carbon Trading Framework. In her speech, Dr. Nyoni emphasized the need for collective action to […]

Read More