Government on Wednesday, 22nd March, launched the 4 billion United States Dollar Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme implementation process with a call to the media to help market the project to potential financiers locally and abroad.
The call came ahead of a high level international investor conference that Zambia will host on 30th March, 2017, in the tourist capital Livingstone to mobilise resources for the Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme, a joint venture with neighbouring Zimbabwe.
When he officially launched the project at a media Breakfast in Lusaka yesterday, Energy Minister David Mabumba, observed that currently, electricity demand outstripped supply in Zambia and Zimbabwe and the SADC region at large, adding that this has impacted negatively on socio-economic development.
The Minister said the situation is further compounded by the fact that there are large portions of the communities that do not have access to electricity, thereby putting pressure on the environment in search of alternative energy.
“The result is deforestation, a scourge that the SADC region is battling which has contributed to land degradation, global warming and climate change,” Hon. Mabumba told the audience which included his Permanent Secretary Brig-Gen. Emelda Chola, her Finance counterpart Mukuli Chikuba, Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Mr Munyaradzi Munodawafa, representatives of financial institutions, the media and other stakeholders at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
He added: In response to this energy crisis in the SADC region, the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe have embarked on the bi-lateral Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme 54km downstream of the Victoria Falls. The project is expected to produce 2,400 MegaWatts of electricity at an estimated cost of US$4 billion.”
The Minister said it is against this background that the Council of Ministers that govern the Zambezi River Authority made a commitment to raise funds for the Batoka project through an investor conference slated for 30th March, 2017 in Livingstone which is expected to attract multilateral development financial institutions (DFIs), bilateral cooperating partners, local, regional and multinational private sector organisations.
“The US$4 billion required to implement this project is colossal which neither Hon. Mutati nor his Zimbabwean counterpart can raise from their respective state treasuries, hence this conference aimed at raising the funds from the private sector and other development partners both locally and internationally. And you the media are our ambassadors to help us market this project to potential financiers, said Hon. Mabumba.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Zambezi River Authority CEO Mr Munodawafa said the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric project was long overdue, having been mooted in the early 1990s when the cost of implementing it stood at about US$2 billion which has since doubled.
“Today, we launch the implementation process of a good, high priority project, that makes good economic sense at national, regional and continental levels – the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme,” he said.