THE Zambia government and Zimbabwe, with four cooperating partners yesterday signed a US$294.2 million loan and concessional agreements for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda who signed on behalf of the Zambian government said the Kariba Dam is a symbolic bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He said the dam is also an economic structure that generates hydro-power not only for Zambia but the sub-region with an installed generation capacity of 1, 350 megawatts.
The funds amounting to USD 75 million from African Development Bank, US $100 million from the Eropian Union, US $ 20 from Swiden, US$ 75 million from world Bank and US$ 19. 2 million from the Zambia Revenue Authority will be used to reshape the plunge pool to limit sourcing and erosion.
Without the rehabilitation, the erosion could potentially weaken the dam foundations.
The project that has beet estimated to take about 10 years before completion will see refurbishing of the spillway gates and associated infrastructure to improve the dam’s stability and operation.
Mr Chikwanda said it was appropriate that the two neighbouring governments and the cooperating partners moved quickly because if left with the passage of time would lead to total collapse.
“The dam which, supports an eco-system of with more than 390, 000 communities, has developed serious cracks that require urgent attention to avert the possible collapse, and this must be done urgently” he said.
Mr Chikwanda who thanked the cooperating partners for the unequivocal and unwavering support said that an estimated total of US$5 billion would have been required to reconstruct a new dam structure in an event that the current had to collapse.
Mr Chikwanda said the Southern African Power Pool would lose an estimated 40 percent of its generation capacity resulting into serious consequences for the entire region had the dam collapsed.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean Finance Minister and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa said the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam was a welcome development at it assures supply of power to the region.
He said the Kariba Dam was integral to the Southern African region’s sustainable socio-economic transformation.
Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom and EU ambassador Gilles Harvio said she and the Swedish government were hopeful that the project will be completed in time.
And World Bank country director Kundhavi Kadiresan said the bank will continue to foster collaboration and adherence to the highest international standards for the Kariba Dam project.
AfBD resident representative for Zimbabwe office Mateus Magala pledged a continued support to projects aimed at uplifting the people from poverty and safeguarding livelihood.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development and Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) Council of Ministers chairperson Christopher Yaluma thanked the cooperating partners for the financial support.