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CORONAVIRUS DELAYS $4BN ZAMBIA-ZIMBABWE HYDRO PROJECT

THE developers of the US$4 billion Batoka Gorge hydropower plant on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border delayed the project until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zambezi River Authority spokesman Fitzgerald Muchindu said pre-construction work on the project has been suspended for several months because of the virus and funding is still being secured.

He added that work on the 2,400-megawatt facility had been scheduled to start in 2020.

“The authority and the developer are doing everything possible to expedite the outstanding pre-construction activities with a view to commence construction works at the earliest possible time,” Muchindu said in emailed responses to questions. “Construction activities are currently projected to commence towards the end of 2022,” he said.

According to ZNBC News, Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2019 chose General Electric Co. and Power Construction Corp. of China to build the plant on the Zambezi River.

Mr Muchindu said talks are under way with domestic pension funds in Zambia and Zimbabwe to raise capital for the project.

“These discussions will be firmed upon once the optimisation of the scheme, which will inform the actual projects, is completed,” he said.

He added that Trade and Development Bank, a Bujumbura, Burundi-based multilateral lender, has been appointed as the lead arranger for financing on the project.

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