World Bank Group to Finance Repairs to the Zambezi River’s Kariba Dam

December 9, 2014

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2014—The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$75 million IDA* Credit and US$25 million grant from the Government of Sweden to Zambia for the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project. The project aims to assist the Zambezi River Authority in securing the long-term safety and reliability of the Kariba Dam Hydro-Electric Scheme.

The Kariba Dam, built between 1956 and 1959 with support from IBRD, provides more than 50 percent of Zambia and Zimbabwe’s electricity, benefiting an estimated four and a half million people. During these six decades, 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 area, supporting fisheries, tourism operations, irrigation for agriculture and drinking water for local towns and villages.

The project, with total financing of $300 million, is being co-financed by the African Development Bank and the European Union and will help the Zambezi River Authority, which is responsible for the management of the Kariba Dam, to reshape the dam’s plunge pool and refurbish its spillway, as well as improve dam operations in order to bring it up to international safety standards.

“Rehabilitation of the Kariba dam is an important component of the World Bank’s larger program for boosting the energy security of Southern Africa.  There is much more to be done in reaching that goal, but today marks an important milestone in securing the Kariba dam for the coming decades,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.

“The Kariba Dam is woven into the social and economic lives of our two peoples. We remain strongly committed to our continued partnership in ensuring that the benefits of regional cooperation flow directly to the people of our countries. We welcome the World Bank’s and Government of Sweden’s financing for the urgently needed rehabilitation works at Kariba. Our top priority is to ensure the dam continues to meet international safety standards,” said Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance of Zambia and Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe.

Cross-border energy trade made possible by the Kariba Dam Hydro-Electric Scheme is central to increasing access to electricity and lowering costs for millions of people. The project supports the development strategy of the Southern Africa Power Pool, a framework established in 1995 to provide regional solutions to electricity generation for the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community.

“This project is a testimony to the power of perseverance and cooperation between governments and development partners and the World Bank is pleased to have played an important role in getting us here.  We remain deeply committed to ensuring that the same spirit of cooperation remains the hallmark during project implementation,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, World Bank Country Director for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The Zambezi River Authority has undertaken a series of studies and assessments to identify refurbishment of the spillway and reshaping of the plunge pool so that after nearly 60 years in operation, the Kariba Dam can continue to operate in accordance with international dam safety standards.

“The Kariba Dam has been in operation for more than 50 years and the proposed interventions are well timed. This project represents best technical practices in complex dam rehabilitation and is designed to ensure that adequate attention is given to the environmental and social aspects during implementation as part of the broader program of support to ensuring sustainable, climate resilient development of water resources in the Zambezi River basin,” said Marcus Wishart, Senior Water Resources Specialist at the World Bank and Task Team Leader for the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project.

*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

Media Contacts
In Washington
Aby K. Toure
Tel : (202) 473-8302
In Zambia
Maureen Nkandu
Tel : +260 963239357
In Zimbabwe
Margaret Matewa
Tel : +263 4701233