SADC: ZiZaBoNa on course

By Nawa Mutumweno – Five investors have expressed interest in the development of the $223 million power transmission inter-connector project to link Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia (ZiZaBoNa).

According to a statement issued by SADC Secretariat Water Division and Infrastructure Service Directorate communications officer Barbara Lopi, the potential investors revealed their interest in the project at a recent investors’ roundtable held in Swakopmund, Namibia recently.

The project which is being promoted as part of SADC regional integration has the capacity to increase power trading among participating utilities in addition to providing  an alternative route and assist decongest the existing central transmission corridor that currently passes through Zimbabwe.

Total funding required is $223 million, involving $67 million equity and $156 million debt financing. The five investors that would participate in this mammoth inter-country project and have pledged over $160 million encompass the African Development Bank (AfDB), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), European Investment Bank (EIB), French Development Agency and Stanbic Botswana.

DBSA has indicated willingness to contribute $50 million over a 17-year period. The French Development Agency pledged to commit between $30 million and $50 million, while the AfDB said it will pick up 40% of the debt financing required.

The Master Plan, which will guide development in key infrastructure in the region was tabled at the SADC Heads of State and Government annual summit held in Maputo, Mozambique from August 17 -18, 2012.

Terms of the ZiZaBoNa agreement signed in 2008 are that all the four respective power utilities – the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Namibia Power Company (NamPower) – were expected to finance parts of the project that fall within their national frontiers.

The initial capacity of the transmission interconnector will be 300 MW, which will be later increased to 600 MW.

The project will be implemented in two stages with Phase One covering the construction of a 120-km 330 kV line from Hwange Power Station to Victoria Falls where a switching station will be built on the Zimbabwean side which will be extended to a sub-station at Livingstone, Zambia.

The second phase will involve the construction of a 300 km 330kV line from Livingstone to Katima Mulilo in Namibia, through Pandamatenga in Botswana.

The Zimbabwe-Zambia interconnector will be built as a high voltage line with a transmission capacity of 430 kV. However, it will operate as a 330 kV line during the first phase.

The ZiZaBoNa project will be organised as a special purpose vehicle, to be incorporated as a company in Namibia.  The four utilities will take 20% each of the equity and project completion is set for 2015.