Earlier development of the Bakota Gorge HES was delayed due to an unresolved impasse between Zambia and Zimbabwe dating back to 1987 and a debt associated with the Kariba Dam complex. This delay is estimated to have resulted in over US$7 billion in foregone revenues from direct electricity sales and an economic loss of over US$45 billion in the cost of unserved electricity. Acknowledging these costs and the urgent need for additional generation capacity, CIWA facilitated an agreement between the two countries that opened the way for advancing project preparation.
The Zambezi River Development Project represents the next stage in this transboundary collaboration. The project is expected to update the engineering studies and support an environmental and social impact assessment for the Batoka Gorge HES, and conduct legal and institutional reviews to support the ZRA. The project is aligned to the prioritized list of activities articulated in the IWRM Strategy and Implementation Plan prepared for the Zambezi River Basin, which presents the main challenges for the management of the water resources of the basin as well as a series of recommended strategies and actions to address them.
“This represents a significant milestone in addressing historical legacies that have delayed the development of the resources of the Zambezi River and highlights the economic and financial implications associated with the complexities of international waters. This is the first of a series of strategic interventions aimed at promoting the equitable and reasonable utilization of the water resources of the Zambezi watercourse as well as their efficient management and sustainable development,” said Marcus Wishart, Sr. Water Resource Specialist at the World Bank and task team leader for the project
The Zambezi River Development Project is intended to be one among a series of projects envisaged as part of a program of CIWA support to the riparian nations and regional bodies in the Zambezi River Basin. To maximize the impact of support, activities are planned at three levels: country level, among sub-regional clusters, and across the basin. CIWA aims to promote water as a platform for growth, sustainability, and water security in the Zambezi River Basin by leveraging other financing and analytical instruments of the World Bank Group as well as those of other development partners to support continuing dialogue among key stakeholders through analytical work and technical assistance, preparation of a pipeline of projects, and investment financing.