Zambia and Zimbabwe will start building the USD 4 billion Batoka hydropower dam across the Zambezi River next year.
In a statement, the Zambezi River Authority says the project will commence next year, 25 years since it was first mooted.
Authority Chief Executive Officer Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa explains that procurement of the developer for the project is underway and is expected to be engaged by the end of 2019.
Engineer Munodawafa added that once engaged, the developer is expected to commence works in the last quarter of 2020.
He further says studies have revealed that the project will have minimal impacts regarding physical and economic displacements of the host communities as the reservoir will be contained within the gorge where there is limited livelihood at present.
He however stated that where physical or economic displacement is necessary, the authority will prepare a resettlement action plan in consultation with the affected parties and relevant government institutions to compensate such affected households to a level better than before by applying national and international good practices.
Currently, the proposal is for two power plants, each with an installed capacity of 1,200 megawatts one on the Zambian side and another on the Zimbabwean side.
The dam to supply the reservoir with water will be a 181 metres tall arch-gravity type.
The Batoka Gorge dam will be situated 50 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls with a designed capacity of 2,400 megawatts shared between the two countries.
As well as the dam, roads, transmission infrastructure and housing would also be built.
Engineer Munodawafa said feasibility studies were almost complete and a developer would be signed up by the end of this year.
He said the project would have “minimal impacts” on local people as the reservoir behind the dam wall would be contained within the gorge.
Engineer Munodawafa said studies are underway to mitigate environmental damage.
“Once engaged, the developer is expected to commence works in the last quarter of 2020,” Engineer Munodawafa said.
In February, Zambia’s Energy Ministry said the ZRA short-listed U.S, European and Chinese companies to build the Batoka Gorge hydro power plant.
Mr. Nkhuwa said recently that a bidder had yet to be chosen to build for the project.
Those short-listed are a consortium of General Electric and Power Construction Corporation of China, Salini Impregilo of Italy and a joint venture of Chinese firms Three Gorges Corporation, China International and Water Electric Corporation and China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd.
The project will use a Build-Operate-Transfer financing model and place no fiscal strain on either government as no sovereign guarantees will be required.
According to Bloomberg News, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said last month that General Electric of the US and Power Construction Corporation of China had been selected.
Zimbabwe suffers regular power cuts of 19 hours a day, while Zambia has shorter outages of around five hours.
As of July 2018, the projected cost of development was estimated at US$4.5 billion.