The Zambezi River Authority today handed over the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric scheme to stakeholders at a meeting held in Hwange. The construction project will see the Zimbabwe and Zambia joint venture erect a 175m dam which will house two power stations, each generating 1200MW of power.

Two townships one in Zimbabwe and one Zambia will also be developed, in the process creating thousands of jobs. At its peak the project will lead two 8000 jobs and hundreds more downstream.

The Zimbabwe side will see a 55km access road of 55km off the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway being constructed.

The ESIA covers four main areas, that is, Transmission infrastructure, Dam, Access roads and the township.

The Project has already identified a developer, Power China and General Electric. The next phase will see the two countries negotiating with the developer after which the developer is expected to mobilize resources for the project. Construction is likely to be start on the 4th quater of 2021 to 1st quarter of 2022.

The two countries have agreed on a Procurement policy to ensure local businesses benefit from the project. As such, there will be a series of capacity building programmes for local businesses in 2021 to help them benefit from the project. Compensation of another key component of the project will be to ensure that people affected physically and economically will be compensated.

However, indications are that all the water will be contained within the gorge. The reservoir will be much smaller than Kariba and as result no flooding of the plain is expected.