The $5 billion Batoka Gorge hydropower project Zambia and Zimbabwe plan to build on their shared border could start producing by 2023 and will generate electricity at a cheaper cost than solar or coal, Zimbabwean Energy Minister Samuel Undenge said.
The two southern African nations will complete a feasibility study into the project by July, with construction due to start next year, he said in an interview in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. Financing has yet to be finalized and will form part of the tender process expected to start in the second half of 2016, he said.
“We hope that there will be financiers that will come through because it’s a very viable project,” he said. “Hydropower is the cheapest form of power and we estimate that it will come out at about 5 cents per kilowatt hour when completed, which is far below solar energy and thermal power.”
Zambia and Zimbabwe both face severe power shortages as years of under-investment are amplified by low water levels at the Kariba dam hydropower station that they each rely on for about half of total supplies. Batoka Gorge will produce 2,400 megawatts, about 30 percent more than Kariba, which is the world’s largest man-made reservoir by capacity.