Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Power plant
Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Power plant

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.

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33 COMMENTS


  1. The beat goes on. Its about time. Well done guys. Others will still not appreciate the importance of this project.

    New technology allows us to recycle the same water and produce electricity.

    Plus Zambia is blessed to be on a good +water table. We have a lot of underground running rivers.

    This beats the dependable of rain water by using new technology found in desert nations such as Israel.

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    • Independent [email protected]

      We naturally expect the followers of the Supreme God not to appreciate this undertaking. They shoot down on every good thing that happens in Zambia. Bitterness is very contagious and its coming from the Supreme God, Hakainde Hichilima – The Ayatollah Supreme showered onto his followers

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    • Ba independent Observer please note that underground water is RECHARGED BY RAINWATER. I am also not aware of a technology that generate electricity from underground water. What generate electricity from surface water is the drop in elevation.

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    • 1.2 Senior Engineer RTD

      I am assuming your are NOT a Real Rngineer.

      Fair enough you don’t know about this technology. If anyone wants to know about this – read from this link
      *************

      These technologies are used in dry or desert nations such as 1.Qatar, 2.Isreal, 3.Lebanon, and the list goes

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    • I am assuming you are not a real Engineer. Maybe that’s why Lungu said not too long ago that our Engineers in Zambia are useless and lazy ( or something like that )
      Anyone who needs to know more. Read from this link below

      duke-energy.com/energy-education/how-energy-works/pumped-storage-hydro-plants

      Or just search for (Duke Energy) online

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    • cont..

      SENIOR ENGINEER RTD 1.2

      This technology is used in +Dry and +Desert nations such as 1.Qatar, 2. Israel, 3.Saudi Arabia, 4.Jordan and the list goes on..

      A flexible, dynamic, efficient and green way to store and deliver large quantities of electricity, pumped-storage hydro plants store and generate energy by moving water between two reservoirs at different elevations. During times of low electricity demand, such as at night or on weekends, excess energy is used to pump water to an upper reservoir. The turbine acts as a pump, moving water back uphill. During periods of high electricity demand, the stored water is released through turbines.

      (c) Copy-write (Duke Energy )

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    • Sir Independence Observer
      Independent Observer

      I have just read the Duke Energy site. Basically we can have 2 reservoirs dams. Water gets pumped to the first dam which produces electricity. After that it gets stored in the second dam. Then on low cost, the same water will produce electricity from the second dam, and back to the first dam. Which means in the in the meantime we can pump water from the rivers Zambezi and also Underground Water to fill up the dams. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

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    • 1.2 Ba SENIOR ENGINEER RTD

      Kikikiki ….. Did you buy your degree online or from the back of the lorry??

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    • Zambian engineer are just REPAIRMEN.. They are not creative and inventive and I am not surprised the negativity from our colleague ( SENIOR ENGINEER RTD ). You will find them in bars, always boasting about their qualifications with nothing to show, but just asking anyone to buy them free booze.

      I guess Professor Clive Chirwa is the only example we have in Zambia.

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    • Please read my thread and answer the points I have raised. I have not talked about PUMPED STORAGE. In any case pumped storage works only in countries where the NIGHT ELECTRICITY TARIFF IS CHEAPER THAN THE DAY TARIFF. The principle behind pumped storage is that you use the turbines acting as pumps during the night using the cheaper night tariff to pump water to a higher reservoir and during the day use the pumps now acting as turbines to generate electricity and charge it at the day time tariff which is higher using the same water you pumped at night. In Zambia it would not make economic sense because there are no cheaper night tariffs. The tariff is the same whether during the day or night

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    • Please note that the reason why some countries set the night time tariffs lower than daytime tariffs is because of the low demand of electricity at night. It cannot work filling the Kariba Dam with ground water because you are using electricity to pump your water unless the source of electricity you are using is cheaper perhaps frrom solar if that is the case.

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  2. Hydro Electricity though cheaper and Eco-friendly notwithstanding habitat loss in some cases, is susceptible to drought. Given the reality of anthropogenic induced climate change and global warming,the risks of droughts have increase immensely in the last couple of years when this project was first initiated. even if we utilize new technologies that use water efficiently such double-generation being proposed in this project, drought may still significantly affect water levels due to withdrawal caused by evaporation and other competing uses of water such as irrigation etc.
    Solar power and wind power, though seemly expensive from the short-term frame, are actually cost effective in the long-term frame which is important. Intermittency disadvantages of solar & wind can be mitigated by…

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  3. biomass energy based generation and the current hydro installed capacity.
    It seems very risk committing $4 billion into hydro in present circumstances.

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  4. I agree with the point @ 2 and 3 are making. Zambezi River water has been reducing and it’s the reason we are currently experiencing Load Shedding. So why not look at other rivers in Zambia like Chambeshi River, it has so much water which just goes to the Congo. They are too obsessed with Zambezi River. Please let them look at other rivers in Zambia

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    • The Chambeshi River becomes the Luapula River which eventually flows into the Congo River which has a site at Inga that can generate 40,000MW of electricity. The Chambeshi River has no hydropower site whereas the Luapula River has a number of sites shared with the Congolese which can therefore only be developed with them. But I suspect they have their have their hands full with the Inga project of 40,000MW.

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    • They want Botoka because its located in a rift valley where as Luapula is basically a flood plain….from an economical point of view investing in Solar power is more feasible plus you dont have to put with a neighbouring Zimbabwe.

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  5. ACTION NOW. This project has been on the drawing board for over 30 years. Hydropower projects are designed based on the recorded waterflows which for the Zambezi River started in 1905 and the recent extreme low flows were not captured in the design of the Kariba Dam which are a new phenomenon attributed to climate change. They will be captured in the design of future hydropower projects (Zambia has a hydropower potential of over 6000MW). The Batoka Gorge includes the cost of two townships on the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides unlike the Kariba Dam where the white settlers only constructed the township on the Zimbabwean side including the power station. in addition the dam will also serve as a new bridge.

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  6. To the best of my knowledge the Batoka Gorge has not yet been constructed. So is the picture shown in the article an artist impression of the project. In any case I was expecting to see an arch concrete dam perhaps.

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  7. How many years has it taken for people to come to this realization? Why are we reactive and not proactive to situations? Right now we are crying of water levels going down, can’t we find a way of holding this water in reservoirs? Go learn from Egypt, they are hold Nile waters whilst we cry

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    • The problem we have in Zambia is not lack of storage reservoirs but lack of adequate rainfall to fill them especially of late. The Kariba Dam has not been full therefore requiring spilling of excess water for years. What is there to learn in Egypt when all they have is the Aswan Dam just like our Itezhitezhi and Kariba Dams. The Egyptians are worried about upstream countries who want to start using the Nile waters now despite a law that prevented upstream countries from using the Nile waters enacted by the British when they were ruling Egypt. Tell us what the Egyptians have done.

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  8. Senior Engineer RTD your facts are not correct, first the photo is real and is called Batoka dam, it was first built in 1905 and up graded it is located right below the falls in the gorge the intake area is right next to the sun hotel on the river, that is why the Zam side of the falls is dry in the dry season as the water is diverted. the other error is that when Kariba was built it was 1 country not two and there were two towns Kariba town and Saravonga not one as you say, and for the first 50 yrs the dam worked well until the Chinese started to bugger things up by adding extra turbines, thus more water is released but same amount enters lake. example get a coke bottle fill it with water with hose pipe put 6 holes in it, water level never goes below 75% add 3 more holes and water drops…

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    • to 33% , same principle for Kariba dam ,not enough force to turn turbines. yet Cabora Basa dam built down stream still is full and power production is at same level, why because no one has added more turbines or holes per say. as for the new Batoka Dam it will work in wet season but not in dry, not enough water, also you said we would have a 2nd road access crossing to Zim well there is weight limits so limited trucks could cross as is the issue with Kariba. who benefits well the Chinese of course, they build it and get paid and the power that produced is split with Zim and we know already it will be sold to SA in dollars to pay for the cost of building the dam, the cost of this dam is about the same as all the eurobonds that were borrowed by Zambia in 2011. Stick with solar, In Australia…

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    • Cosmos you are the one who is wrong. Batoka dam was not constructed in 1905. Who was going to use the power generated because in 1905 there were no copper mines. The Batoka gorge exists and is a suitable dam site but the dam has not built. The President of Mozambique said after heavy rains from Cyclone Idai, the water level behind the Cahora Bassa Dam, the fourth largest in Africa, is above recommended levels, raising the possibility that a discharge might be required to relieve growing pressure. Cahora Bassa dam was FULL.

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  9. In Australia every new house built has solar panels on the roof, what they don,t use is put in the grid, then they use hydro power at night, in fact Adelaide has the worlds biggest battery . 4 billion dollars could put a lot of solar panels on most of Zambian homes and businesses , it would create thousands of jobs for Zambian’s nation wide and solar panel factories be made in Zambia creating more jobs. Solar and hydro by day , hydro by night, remember we don’t manufacture much so we don’t have a use for night and day rates.
    Stop giving our jobs and our tax Kwacha to the Chinese and Zimbabweans.
    This dam will also wipe out tourism in Livingstone, no more world heritage site and Vic Falls, thousands of jobs lost.

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    • Cosmos I hate to admit it but here you are very correct. In fact for starters because geysers are the biggest consumers of electricity in a home ZESCO could encourage their use by subsidizing their cost or even give them for free as it wanted to do at one time and this programme was announced by Rupiah Banda at the height of an election campaign. It turned out to be an election gimmick.

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    • The height of the Batoka Dam has been designed in such a way that the Victoria Falls will not be drowned. However what will disappear is white water rafting which is done downstream of the Falls and brings in some tourists. ZRA has argued that the local population will benefit more from the construction of the dam through employment and the establishment of two township in Zambia and Zimbabwe than it does from white water tourism.

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  10. Senior Engineer RTD said that Kariba did not fill up, well last year it was 96% full and last year at this time it was 86%, today its 27% all the info and graphs are found at **************
    just shows you how the extra turbines the greedy brainless Chinese put in have stuffed up the hydro system. In the early nineties they had the same poor rainfall as this year but no super low level that resulted in power shedding.

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  11. Senior Engineer RTD said that Kariba did not fill up, well last year it was 96% full and last year at this time it was 86%, today its 27% all the info and graphs are found at www dot zambezira dot
    org/hydrology/lake-levels
    just shows you how the extra turbines the greedy brainless Chinese put in have stuffed up the hydro system. In the early nineties they had the same poor rainfall as this year but no super low level that resulted in power shedding.

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    • The fact that you are using two additional machines where they were four machines means that you will use more water regardless of the efficiency of the machines. The Power equation is a CONSTANT X EFFICIENCY OF THE MACHINE X DISCHARGE OF WATER X THE HEAD OR DROP OF WATER. Surely the 380MW additional power these two extra machines are producing will use SOME WATER. What surprises me is that people do not question why there is LESS maize harvested this year because they understand that there was poor rainfall and yet expect the Kariba Dam to have been filled by the same poor rainfall.

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    • I have heard others complain that ZESCO is not using the two extra machines properly because it is using them throughout instead of using them for a SHORT TIME FOR PEAKING PURPOSES ONLY.

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