THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) project steering committee has held a meeting with the winning Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) bidding company, the Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to agree on a roadmap for the implementation of the ESIA programme.
ERM is a South Africa-based company represented by three project team members, two from South Africa and one from their Zimbabwe office.
The full complement on the project will include Zimbabwe, Zambia, UK and South African team members.
In a statement, ZRA chief executive officer, Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa, outlined the expectations of the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe who are the project shareholders of the Batoka Project.
The kick-off meeting discussed logistics of the project implementation with consideration that this is a bi-lateral project.
The success of the project will be centred on collaboration between the engineering feasibility study being done by Studio Pietrangeli Consulting Engineers of Italy and the ESIA team from ERM.
The proposed hydroelectric scheme is located on the Zambezi River, across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It involves the construction of a dam and a hydropower plant on the Zambezi River.
If completed, the project will increase generation capacity and reduce reliance on electricity imports.
Initial studies have shown that the Batoka hydro scheme will turn Zimbabwe into a regional net exporter of power.
The project will also improve the generation mix which is currently skewed in favour of coal-fired plants. The Batoka hydro concept was conceived in 1972 out of a study instituted by the predecessor of the Zambezi River Authority, the Central African Power Corporation.
Some of the logistical issues discussed include inputs of previous ESIA studies, harmonisation of the engineering feasibility and the ESIA, data sharing and inputs into the designs. ERM is also expected to submit a health and safety policy taking into account the legislative requirements and expectations of the two Contracting States, Zambia and Zimbabwe and also the ZRA’s health and safety requirements.
The next stage following this meeting is an inception workshop which will include the project steering committee (PSC) comprising officials from the Energy and Finance ministries, Zesco in Zambia, Zesa in Zimbabwe and ZRA.