Zimbabwe and Zambia have re-affirmed their political commitment to develop the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme which requires a financial injection of US$$4 billion.
Zambian vice president Mrs Inonge Wina confirmed this during the official opening of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme Investor Conference in Livingstone, Zambia.
The two countries are on a investment drive to seek funding from potential investors in order implement the Batoka project which will generate 2400 megawatts.
The project is expected to reduce the deficit between the current supply of 47 000 megawatts and a demand of 53 000 megawatts in the Southern African region.
Zambian vice president Mrs Inonge Wina said the two countries are further committed to ensuring that the price of power is cost -reflective to accommodate full recovery of investments by the investor community.
“As governments, we look forward to your support, which will enable the commencement of this very important project for the benefit of most of the countries in the southern and east African regions. I wish also to take this opportunity to mention here that our two countries will always endeavour to work together on projects of mutual benefit because of our long cordial relationship that has existed for many years with regard to the management of our water bodies,” she said.
Co-chairperson of the Zambezi River Authority Council of Ministers Dr Samuel Undenge and his Zambian counterpart Mr David Mabumba said the two countries recognise the critical role played by the private sector in improving power supply in the region in which only 35 percent of the households have access to electricity.
“Transmission projects are critical to evacuate the power from generation sources to various load centres within the region. There are still a lot of transmission constraints that are affecting electricity trading among the SADC member states. In 2016 alone, 66 percent of the energy that was matched and available for trading on the competitive market could not be traded due to transmission constraints,” said Dr Undenge.
“Therefore, in order to stimulate investment in the mining and manufacturing sectors and also to promote social and economic development, a stable and reliable supply of electricity is paramount,” said Mr Mabumba.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa emphasized the need to address and overcome perceived risks including regulatory, financial, legal and other barriers to attract private capital for public infrastructure projects.
“Furthermore, a project of this magnitude requires much preparation for the market; so as to provide clarity for easier investor assessments of project risks. This is also benefiting from reform programmes focusing on attracting capital, particularly from private investors into the energy sector that our two countries have been implementing,” said Cde Chinamasa.
The Zambezi River Authority will implement the multi-billion dollar project in collaboration with the two power utilities, ZESCO Limited of Zambia and ZESA Holdings with the participation of the private sector.
The conference was aimed at showcasing investment opportunities offered by the project.