China, Italy and US companies in race to build $4.5bn Zambezi dam

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has shortlisted three bidders for the Batoka Gorge hydropower project, a $4.5bn hydroelectric scheme located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Those in the running are:

  • China Three Gorges Corporation, which built the Three Gorges Dam in China.
  • Salini Impregilo, Italy’s largest contractor, which is currently engaged on the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.
  • A joint venture between Power China and GE Hydro China, a subsidiary of US corporation General Electric.

The ZRA is a statutory body set up by Zimbabwe and Zambia to manage the Zambezi River. Its chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said: "If all goes well, by September we should have a developer for the Batoka. So, for Batoka, we are talking of a 2.4GW plant, 1.2GW on both sides of the river. We are just waiting for the developer, when we appoint we will then go to the next stage of construction."

Previously, the dam had been expected to have two power plants, each with an installed capacity of 800MW, one on the Zambian side and another on the Zimbabwean side of the border. The dam was planned as a 181m-high structure holding back 1.7 billion cubic metres of water.

The construction period is expected to be between 10 and 13 years.

Image: The Batoka Gorge (International Rivers)

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