By Nawa Mutumweno – The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has given the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) a $105 million loan facility to co-finance the expansion of its Kariba North Bank hydropower station.
The 360 MW hydropower station, which is being developed as an extension to the existing 720 MW Kariba North Bank power station, on the Zambezi River will cost $430 million.
Construction works by China’s Sinohydro commenced in November 2008 and are scheduled to be completed by December 2012.
“This signifies a major step change aimed to support the Southern African Development Community energy supplies into a single integrated market and facilitate regional integration upon which the economies of the region can thrive,” said DBSA divisional executive director Dr. Bane Maleke.
The DBSA, along with other development finance institutions, has also previously assisted in funding ZESCO’s power rehabilitation programme (PRP) which is aimed at replacing and upgrading ageing infrastructure at the Kariba North, Kafue Gorge and Victoria Falls hydropower stations.
At the existing Kariba North Bank power station, the installed capacity of three out of the four turbines have been upgraded to 180 MW, up from the previous 150 MW.
The fourth turbine, which will also be upgraded to 180 MW, is expected to be on line by March 2011.
Zambia’s hydropower potential stands at over 6 000 MW of which less than 2 000 MW has been exploited.
Apart from the Kariba North extension project, ZESCO is also working on implementing the $275 million 120 MW Itezhi Tezhi hydropower station which is expected to be completed by 2013.
The Zambian government in October 2010 signed an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) with Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation, a joint venture between ZESCO and TATA Africa Group of Companies. The IPPA is meant to facilitate the construction of the power plant.