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FEATURE STORY

Board approves CIWA support for the Zambezi River Authority’s Zambezi River Development Project

July 1, 2014

Batoka Gorge in the Zambezi Basin

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The project will support engineering studies and an environmental and social impact assessment of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme
  • 1600MW generated by the project will be shared equally by Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • The Batoka Gorge HES is a successful example where analytic work on financial and economic implications of inaction has played a crucial role in bringing together riparians for joint project planning and development

The World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$6 million grant from CIWA to the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) for the Zambezi River Basin Development Project on May 30, 2014.  The project will support the preparation of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (HES) on the Zambezi River and forms an important element of the World Bank’s broader support to the Zambezi River Basin.

The Batoka Gorge HES project was originally conceived as part of a cascade on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kariba Dam complex, the first in this cascade, was completed in 1961. In 1992-93, a feasibility study commissioned by the ZRA confirmed the Batoka Gorge HES as the least cost option on the Zambezi River with respect to average specific energy generation cost. With a recommended generation capacity of 1600 MW, the mean energy production is estimated to provide sufficient energy for more than 1.2 million households.

Batoka Gorge in the Zambezi Basin

Open Quotes

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. Close Quotes

Marcus Wishart
Sr. Water Resource Specialist and task team leader for the project

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.