Construction of the Batoka hydro-electric power station, which is supposed to be built under a joint venture partnership between Zimbabwe and Zambia, still remains sketchy.
This was revealed on Monday in Parliament during a meeting where the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to explain a number of issues, including how ZPC intended to improve electricity supply by 2015.
Although the ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro told the Mines and Energy committee chaired by Guruve South MP, Edward Chindori-Chininga, that the Batoka Gorge hydro-electric power project was still on the cards, legislators from the committee who recently visited Zambia said the Zambians had no plans for the power station.
“On greenfields power generation projects, we are working on projects such as the Batoka Gorge,”said Gwariro.
“We are also interested in solar thermal and other hydro projects in the country and we are looking for funders for the projects,” he said.
However, when the mines committee visited Zambia two months ago and met with ZESCO, the Zambian power utility, they said they did not have Batoka Gorge as part of their programme for building hydro-electric power station, but were working on Kariba South, which was at a very advanced stage, and the Kafue Gorge.
“Zambia has done a lot in Kariba South power stations and Kafue Gorge expansion and they said they would not be interested in Batoka Gorge unless Zimbabwe solved their legal issues with them,” said Chindori-Chininga.
According to reports availed to the committee, Zimbabwe had a debt owed to Zambia amounting to $72 million, but the debt had accrued interest since independence and had now escalated to $265 million, which debt the Zambians wanted settled before agreeing to joint venture on the Batoka Gorge.
If all goes well with the project, the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric power project would increase electricity supply in the two countries’ national grids by 800 megawatts (MW).
Recently, Zesa said Zimbabwe would construct the Batoka Gorge power station alone if Zambia refused to invest in the project.
However, the power utility company has to date failed to secure investment for its proposed power generation projects.
Zimbabwe is currently importing 250MW from neighbouring countries to supplement its power deficits.