Chinese, US firms in joint bid for Batoka project

Batoka gorge

Batoka gorge

Golden Sibanda, Harare Bureau
GLOBAL electrical engineering giants, China Power and United States incorporated General Electric (GE), have launched a joint bid for a contract to construct the 2 400-megawatt Batoka Gorge hydropower project being co-developed by Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo on Friday, while officiating at a Zesa annual risk management awards ceremony, said the two electrical engineering giants paid him a visit at his offices on Friday and expressed strong interest in the project.

The Energy Minister said that while Zimbabwe had successfully commissioned the Kariba South Extension project, in March this year, which added 300MW to national electricity grid, the country has remained shot of adequate power, adding Harare’s goal was to be energy self-sufficient as well as be a net exporter of power.

As such, Minister Moyo said he would engage his Zambian counterparts to discuss ways in which the implementation of the Batoka power project, which the two neighbouring countries urgently need to resolve power deficits in their countries, could be expedited.

The Batoka Gorge sits on the mighty Zambezi River, whose administration the riparian states share. It also supplies water to the jointly owned Kariba Dam, which the two countries use for power generation, 1 050MW for Zimbabwe and Zambia for 1 080MW.

“This morning (Friday), I received representatives from China Power and General Electric (GE) from the US. They have shown great enthusiasm to move into Batoka (hydropower project),” he said.

“I do know my colleagues would want to accept this development, I will consult and we will meet, as members of the Zambezi River Authority to discuss how we can speed up the programme.”

China Power is incorporated in Hong Kong with limited liability under the Hong Kong Companies’ ordinance on March 24, 2004 and is a core subsidiary for conventional energy business of State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), the only integrated energy group, which owns coal-fired power, hydropower, nuclear power and renewable energy resources in China.

The shares of the company were listed on the main board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on October 15, 2004.

It turns over about $300 million annually.

GE is a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listed United States multinational conglomerate, and also is among five foreign investors that diversified Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed miner RioZim has reportedly short-listed to develop its $1.5 billion 2 400ME Sengwa thermal power project in Gokwe North.

GE and four other suitors, among them an unnamed Chinese company, have reportedly since been furnished with a bankable feasibility study, which they are evaluating within a 90-day period and thereafter submit proposals on the project.

The group is incorporated in New York and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. As of 2018, GE operated through a number of segments that included aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance, lighting, transport, and oil and gas.

In 2017, GE ranked among the Fortune 500 as the 13th-largest firm in the US by gross revenue. In 2011, GE ranked as the 14th-most profitable and in 2012, the company was listed as the fourth-largest in the world among the Forbes Global 2000.

The $3 billion Batoka power station will be situated about 60 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi River, which separates the two countries, is expected to improve the two countries’ power supply, currently in deficit and also feed into the Southern African Power Pool.

Zimbabwe and Zambia’s demand for energy are forecast to more than double by 2035.

Already, Zimbabwe’s demand for power, at peak periods, stands at 1 400MW yet the country’s internal generation capacity is currently around 1 100MW.

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