US$294 million for Kariba rehabilitation

Kariba Dam Kariba Dam

Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) spokesperson Elizabeth Karonga last week told The Southern Times that funds for the rehabilitation of Kariba Dam had been secured from the African Development Bank, the European Union and the World Bank.

“It is anticipated that by year end, the procurement process will be finalised and project execution for the plunge pool reshaping project will start during the first quarter of 2017. The total cost for financing these rehabilitation works will be US$294.2 million,” said Karonga.

Karonga said the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments formally requested assistance from the World Bank on May 21, 2013 to explore viable options for financing and raising resources for supporting the Zambezi River Authority to rehabilitate Kariba Dam.

She said negotiations with the World Bank started in October 29 in 2014 and were endorsed on December 11, 2014 in preparation of financing to support ZRA in the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam.

“The project is a multilateral one, where financing is through some co-operating partners which comprise of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Development Fund as well as the Swedish government,” Karonga said.

She said the delay in the implementation of the rehabilitation works is as a result of the fact that the procurement process when dealing with several financing institutions takes a bit of time. Giving a breakdown of the input of the financiers, Karonga said the African Development Bank provided a $75 million grant, the EU $100 million, the Swedish government, $25 million, the World Bank $75 million and other funders injected $19.2 million, giving a total cost of $294.2 million.

While Karonga said rehabilitation works were yet to commence, ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa last year told The Daily Mail of Zambia during a parliamentary tour of the power station that the process had already started.

Munodawafa told Zambian members of an energy parliamentary committee on tour of the power plant in Siavonga and Kafue Gorge that $100 million was to be allocated to the reshaping of the plunge pool and other funds would be channeled to the spillway and infrastructure to improve the dam’s stability and operations. Munodawafa said ZRA was then taking advantage of the low water levels at the dam to speed up the rehabilitation works.

“This is the conducive time to carry out the works, we might be crying over the low water levels, but it is a plus when it comes to the rehabilitation works on the dam,” Munodawafa was quoted saying.

The main purpose of the rehabilitation exercise is to prevent the dam failure and preserve its continued operation as one of the key energy producing plants in the region. In its executive summary of a research paper on the risk posed by structural damages at the Kariba Dam wall published in 2014, the South African Institute of Risk Management states that: “The Kariba Dam is in a dangerous state. Opened in 1959, it was built on a seemingly solid bed of basalt. But, in the past 50 years, the torrents from the spillway have eroded that bedrock, carving a vast crater that has undercut the dam’s foundations.

“Engineers are now warning that without urgent repairs, the whole dam will collapse. If that happened, a tsunami-like wall of water would rip through the Zambezi valley, reaching the Mozambique border within eight hours. The torrent would overwhelm Mozambique’s Cabora Bassa Dam and knock out 40% of southern Africa’s hydroelectric capacity. Along with the devastation of wildlife in the valley, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) estimates that the lives of 3.5 million people are at risk.”

Map: Kariba dam straddles the Zambian, Zimbabwe border
Map: Kariba dam straddles the Zambian, Zimbabwe border

The Kariba reservoir supplies water to two underground hydropowers with a total capacity of 1830MW generating more than 10, 035 GWh of electricity annually. The North Bank Power Station is operated by Zambia Electricity Supply Commission in Zambia and has an installed capacity of 1080 MW. The South Bank Power Station is operated by Zimbabwe Power Company and currently has installed capacity of 750 MW.

After more than 50 years of providing power for the Southern African region, the Kariba Dam now requires a series of rehabilitation works for its continued safe operation.

According to ZRA, the rehabilitation process was to take place over a period of 10 years taking into account the need to continue operating the dam safely with minimal interruptions to power generation.

The dam has been a key driver of regional growth and development and a major source of flood control and river flow management in the Zambezi River basin. The reservoir contributes to the regional economy and the surrounding areas, supporting fisheries, tourism operations, irrigation for agriculture and drinking water for local towns and villages.

Source: The Southern Times