The project has been under development since 2012 when Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in February for the development of the project. Currently, the project is in its early stages of development which comprise site preparatory works and implementation of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
However, there are reports that General Electric and China’s Power Construction Corporation failed to offer finance due to the heavy indebtedness of the two countries. As a result, Zambia and Zimbabwe are looking to bring the African Development Bank (AfDB) to help finance the joint development.
The makeup of the proposed Batoka Gorge hydropower station
The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric facility will comprise a roller compacted concrete (RCC) gravity arch dam measuring 720m long and 181m-tall, and two 1,200MW surface powerhouses on both sides of the Zambezi River, each powerhouse with six 200MW hydroelectric turbines.
The catchment area of the reservoir will be 508,000km², while four intakes will be built to send water to both the power plants through 4 km-long tunnels.
A crest-type spillway with 12 radial gates will be constructed to ensure the controlled release of flow from the reservoir. Measuring 13m tall and 14m-wide, the spillway’s design discharge capacity will be 20,000m³/s.
Upon completion, the cross-border hydroelectric project is expected to generate 10,215 GWh of electricity a year, which will be shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe through four proposed overhead transmission lines.