JIMMY CHIBUYE – Siavonga
THE governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and four cooperating partners yesterday signed loan and concessional agreements worth US$294.2 million for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam.
The US$294.2 million will be used to reshape the plunge pool to limit sourcing and erosion that could have potentially undermined the dam foundations.Â The money is also for refurbishing the spillway gates and associated infrastructure to improve the damâ€™s stability and operation.
The money has been sourced from the African Development Bank (ABD) – US$75 million, European Union (EU) – US$100 million, World Bank (WB) – US$75 million and the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) – US$19.2 million.
Speaking during a signing ceremony, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said the Kariba Dam is a symbolic bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe and an economic structure that generates hydro-power for the sub-region with an installed generation capacity of 1,350 megawatts.
Mr Chikwanda said the dam, which supports an ecosystem of over 390,000 communities, has developed cracks which require urgent attention to avert a possible collapse.
â€œIt is appropriate that the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and our cooperating partners moved quickly because cracks in any edifice with the passage of time will have exponential dimensions as the problem is big.
â€œSo it was appropriate that we moved swiftly and we sincerely thank our cooperating partners for the unequivocal and unwavering support,â€ he said.
Mr Chikwanda said that an estimated total of US$5 billion would have been required to reconstruct a new dam structure if the current one collapsed.
He said the Southern African Power Pool would lose an estimated 40 percent of its generation capacity and this would have far-reaching economic consequences for the entire region if the dam collapsed.
Zimbabweâ€™s Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa said the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam wall is a welcome development because it guarantees supply of water and generation of power to the region.
Mr Chinamasa said the Kariba Dam is integral to the southern African regionâ€™s sustainable socio-economic transformation.
World Bank country director Kundhavi Kadiresan said the bank will continue to foster collaboration and adherence to the highest international standards for the Kariba Dam project.
Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom and EU ambassador Gilles Hervio hope the project will be completed on time.
AfBD resident representative for Zimbabwe office Mateus Magala said the bank will continue to support projects aimed at uplifting the people from poverty and safeguarding livelihood.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma thanked the cooperating partners for the financial support.
ZRA board chairperson Charity Mwansa said the project will last 10 years.
ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the authority will ensure that the Kariba Dam has another 100-year lifespan.
JIMMY CHIBUYE – Siavonga