Chinese and US firms in joint bid for Batoka HEP project

Global electrical engineering giants, China Power and United States incorporated General Electric (GE), have launched a joint bid for a contract to construct the 2, 400-megawatt Batoka Gorge hydropower project being co-developed by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo on Friday, while officiating at an annual risk management awards ceremony, said the two electrical engineering giants paid him a visit at his offices on Friday and expressed strong interest in the project.

The Energy Minister said that while Zimbabwe had successfully commissioned the Kariba South Extension project, in March this year, which added 300MW to national electricity grid, the country has remained shot of adequate power, adding Harare’s goal was to be energy self-sufficient as well as be a net exporter of power.

As such, Minister Moyo said that he would engage his Zambian counterparts to discuss ways in which the implementation of the Batoka power project, which the two countries urgently need to resolve power deficits in their countries, could be expedited.

The Batoka Gorge sits on the Zambezi River, whose administration the riparian states share. It also supplies water to the jointly owned Kariba Dam, which the two countries use for power generation, 1080MW for Zambia and 1050MW for Zimbabwe.

“This morning (Friday), I received representatives from China Power and General Electric (GE) from the US. They have shown great enthusiasm to move into Batoka (hydropower project),” he said.

“I do know my colleagues would want to accept this development. I will consult and we will meet, as members of the Zambezi River Authority to discuss how we can speed up the programme.”

GE and four other suitors, among them an unnamed Chinese company, have reportedly since been furnished with a bankable feasibility study, which they are evaluating within a 90 day period and thereafter will if interested submit proposals on the project.

GE is incorporated in New York and head-quartered in Boston, Massachusetts. As of 2018, GE operated through a number of segments that included aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance, lighting, transport, and oil and gas.

The US$3 billion Batoka power station will be situated about 60 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River and is expected to improve the two countries’ power supply, currently in deficit and also feed into the Southern African Power Pool.