Conrad Mwanawashe recently in Kariba
Zimbabwe and it’s northern neighbour, Zambia and co-operating partners represented by the European Union yesterday signed a $294 million contract for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam Plunge Pool.
This signals the start of works on the dam wall with the contractor, Razel-BEC, expected on site in the coming weeks.
The project will be carried out under the auspices of the Zambezi River Authority, a bi-national organisation managing the Zambezi River on behalf of the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The rehabilitation contract includes reshaping of the plunge pool and protection of its fault zone using reinforced concrete mattress and refurbishment of the spillway to improve the operation and reduce the risk of the upstream spillway control facility.
Reshaping the plunge pool will lead to an increase in efficiency and an improved capacity to dissipate the energy generated by the spilling events — those moments when the spill gates are opened to release water.
Addressing delegates at the signing ceremony at the Kariba Dam Wall yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the reshaping of the plunge pool will support stabilisation and prevent further scouring of the pool.
“This reshaping is necessary in order to avert a potential risk as the continuous widening of the plunge pool will rob it of it’s ability to disperse the energy jets of water from the open flood gates when spilling,” Minister Chinamasa said.
Conceptualisation of Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project dates back as far as 2009 when the ZRA Council of Ministers at its 28th meeting approved the mobilisation of funds for the rehabilitation.
Following approval, between 2009 and 2012, ZRA, on behalf of the two neighbouring governments, engaged Engineering Consultants Tractebel Engineering of France, who executed studies and investigations, aimed at designing solutions to rectify the identified safety concerns which lead to two remedial measures included in the $294 million contract being prescribed.
Financing for the project is made up of loans and grants for co-operating partners represented by the EU who include the African Development Bank, EU, Swedish government and the World Bank. ZRA will contribute a total of $19,2 million as corner funding.
The AfDB will contribute $36 million grant and $39 million loan, the EU — a grant of $100 million, the Swedish government — $20 million and the WB — $75 million.
In a keynote address at the signing ceremony, Zambian Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said the development marked a great milestone in the energy sector in both countries.
“With today’s signing may I also assure the public with regard to the integrity of Kariba Dam that it is not an immediate threat,” Minister Mutati said.
While acknowledging the support received from the co-operating partners, Minister Mutati called on them to support the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme that has potential to generate 2 400MW of electricity.
“As was the case for the rehabilitation of Kariba Dam, we call upon our co-operating partners to be practical and take a regional approach to this programme as it is meant to benefit countries beyond the two countries (Zimbabwe and Zambia). We will within this quarter be hosting a conference where we will share all the information that partners and financiers need to make the necessary decisions for the project,” said Minister Mutati.
Furthermore, the minister said the development of grid-based solutions will not be the full solutions.
“Therefore the development of mini-hydros and stand-alone solar solutions will be cardinal. We therefore call upon developers and financiers to take advantage of this potential that exists in the region.
“As a way of facilitating these projects, we also need to ensure that countries in the region embark on policy reforms related to tariffs by ensuring cost reflectivity while protecting the marginalised to avoid exacerbating high poverty levels.
“Reform at cost structures of the different utility companies will also be cardinal to ensure that they are profit making and not being subsidised by consumers,” he said.