Defaults raise 2400MW Batoka project cost to US$5 Billion

By Godfrey Marawanyika

Sovereign defaults by both Zambia and Zimbabwe have escalated the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project cost, with the estimated price climbing 23% to almost US$5 billion.

The plan, which is being developed by General Electric and Power Construction Corporation of China, needs credit support, the Zambezi River Authority said. This may be raised through development bank guarantees, government guarantees or partial credit and risk guarantees, said the agency, which is overseeing the construction of the project.

Both countries rely on the Kariba Dam, the world’s largest man-made reservoir, to generate power. The Batoka project includes a 181-meter high dam and two power stations on either bank of the Zambezi river and will generate 2,400 megawatts.

Building was planned to start in 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is yet to begin. The developers are also seeking tax incentives from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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