Zambia and Zimbabwe are set to retender the Batoka Gorge hydropower project, Bloomberg reported. The project has been valued at $5 billion and will have a capacity of 2.4GW.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a collaborative effort between the two nations, is slated to accept bids for the project by April 2025, with new developers expected to be chosen by September of the same year. 

Located on the Zambezi River, approximately 54km downstream from the Victoria Falls and straddling the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, the Batoka Gorge hydropower plant promises to be a pivotal energy infrastructure project for the region.

Originally awarded to General Electric (GE) and Power Construction Corporation of China (Power China), the project has encountered setbacks, including delays attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and challenges in securing financial support. Zambia's Energy Minister, Peter Kapala, announced the country's withdrawal from the 2019 agreement with GE and Power China due to procurement irregularities in June 2023, leading to the project's retendering.

The decision comes amid a severe drought affecting the southern African region, exacerbating food prices and impacting vulnerable communities. Zambia has declared the situation a national disaster.

Munyaradzi Munodawafa, CEO of the ZRA, emphasized the importance of developing water reserve buffers. He told Bloomberg that ‘additional hydroelectric schemes will facilitate reservoir regulation for power generation and flood management’. Munodawafa highlighted the role of the Batoka Gorge project in bolstering power generation during peak seasons while maintaining water reserves at the Kariba Dam for dry seasons.

Despite declining water levels at the shared Kariba Dam, Munodawafa dismissed the notion of decommissioning the facility. The ZRA has allocated eight billion cubic meters of water for Zambian power utility Zesco and Zimbabwe Power for the remainder of 2024, enabling each to generate 214MW of electricity.