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Missteps Hold Back Power Project – Sydney Gata


Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) Holdings executive chairperson Sydney Gata has said several missteps had held back the Batoka Power Project, a deal between Zimbabwe and Zambia which has marked its first 50 years since it was mooted in 1972.

This seemingly overly ambitious project, Batoka returned to Zimbabwe and Zambia priority lists in 2014, after previously being affected by political instability and funding problems.

Gata who is internationally renowned as one of the finest power sector brains, told the International Renewable Energy Conference that the latest problem was lack of a bankable feasibility study.

“A risk profile shows the structure of your project and the risk that it is carrying,” Gata told delegates at the conference.

“Now, a typical IPP (independent power project) goes through these phases. If you miss them you get nowhere. Unfortunately, between Zimbabwe and Zambia we missed a fundamental step and for many years now we are rotating around that challenge.

“A new start came when there was new collaboration. Batoka has unfortunately proceeded without a full feasibility study. It was never put under review of a complete risk matrix,” he added.

Zimbabwe’s local industries have been relying on generators, to mitigate power outages which fuels the costs of running businesses as most fuel service stations only sell fuel in foreign currency and it is expensive.

According to Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority ZERA latest Prices, Diesel costs US$1,86 while petrol (Blend E15) is now at US$1,76.

Batoka Gorge hydropower station, set to be developed on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, will be located 54 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in the world.

Zimbabwe and Zambia entered a memorandum of understanding in February 2012, with the African Development Bank coming in as lead financier and co-ordinator for the US$4,5 billion deal.

Once completed, the 2 400MW power plant is expected to ameliorate power shortages affecting the two countries.

Accessing funding for big projects becomes problematic without feasibility studies.

ross moyo

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