Zambia seeks increased power generation, eyes US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower hydro power plant

As mining companies increase their power consumption to an average 57% as evidenced in recent years, Zambia is looking up to increasing its power generation output to meet the increased demand for energy to match with supply.

Recently, mines energy and water development minister Christopher Yaluma stated that Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer seeks to increase power generation capacity to 39% as the country seeks to grow its economy threefold and meet the dictates of the economy.

Various energy infrastructures have been lined up for construction including facelift to increase the power generation capacity under the US$5 billion budget plant earmarked until 2020.

In it includes the much touted US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower hydro power plant that will increase generation from a paltry 1,400 megawatts daily to at least 2,200 megawatts daily to meet domestic and foreign market demands as espoused under the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

High on the Government’s infrastructural development programme is the construction of the US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower, which when completed by 2018, will provide 750-megawatts of power in addition to other hydro power plants that are on the cards under the state-utility company, known as Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco).

According to projections by the state utility firm, the construction of the much touted 750-megawatt (MW) Kafue Lower Hydro-electricity Power project is expected to start this year, says its managing director, Cyprian Chitundu.

The company is in the process of engaging a consultant to review the feasibility study before construction, he adds.

The Kafue Lower Hydro-power project, initiated by the World Bank’s wing, International Finance Corporation, and envisaged to be co-financed by some interested mining companies that seek more powder for their projects in Zambia, Africa’s leader in copper production, is aimed at increasing electricity generation and the capacity of the transmission and distribution system in the country in view of increased demand for energy within and outside.

Chitundu said efforts are underway and the company is reviewing the feasibility study that was done some time back to allow it secure a consultant  to review it and make sure that all the parameters are in place and ensure the project takes off ahead of the planned commissioning of the Kafue Lower hydro power plant by 2018 or thereabout.

“Once the parameters are set we are going to float the tender document to the short-listed bidders,” he said In Lusaka, June 16.

The consultant will provide engineering consultancy services comprising preparation of technical specifications, production of tender documents and overseeing the tendering process, review of designs and drawings, construction and engineering supervision of the construction.

Zesco has short-listed five European and Chinese companies and a Zambian consortium and the successful bidder is expected on site once the bidding process is concluded in about five months’ time from the time the company will be sought.

The Kafue Hydro Power plant is in addition to among many other hydro power projects that include the US$4 billion-1,800 megawatt Batoka Gorge hydro power station, Zesco seeks to develop with Zimbabwe by 2019 to meet the energy needs that have outstripped supply, leading to power outages in the country.

It is however, feared that the dwindling water in the Kariba Dam, may affect the coutry’s power generation in the short and medium term hence the power company may resort to rationing to sustain the equipment until lasting measures are devised, says energy water and mines permanent secretary, Charles Zulu.

However, Chitundu says said providing reliable power remains top on Zesco’s agenda as demonstrated by the massive expansion drive. Under power generation, Zesco is expected to pre-commission the 15MW Lunzua hydro-electricity project in Mpulungu soon while construction of the 120MW Itezhi-Tezhi power project is also under way.

Zesco is also undertaking transmission projects which include the transmission lines from Lusaka-Mumbwa to Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue to Livingstone and Pensulo to Kasama and Chipata. Recently, mines minister Christopher Yaluma urged miming companies to partner with the Government through Zesco in setting up ‘private sector-driven power generation plants to meet the increasing demand for power in the country.

Earlier, some mining companies, including Mopani Copper Mines, Konkola Copper Mines and Copperbelt Energy Corporation had shown willingness to partner with the Government to build up the Kafue Gorge lower. It is not clear whether the mining companies are still keen with the initial idea.

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