ZAMBIA and Zimbabwe will next month hold meetings to discuss the construction of the US$3-billion Batoka Hydro-Power plant which will produce 1,600 megawatts of power.
Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma said in Lusaka that among the agenda items would be Zimbabwe’s payment of the $170 million debt stemming back from the failed Central Africa Power Corporation (Capco).
The controversial Capco debt has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the construction of the dam and power station at the Batoka Gorge, situated about 54 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls and would be the largest hydro-power plant in Zambia.
Mr Yaluma said Zimbabwe, which had initially refused to take up the debt, was settling the amount on a monthly basis and that the two Governments were now speaking one language and pulling in one direction.
“In early December, we shall be sitting down with Zimbabwe to discuss the construction of the Batoka hydro-power project.
“We have made significant progress with the settlement of the debt and we can now
proceed with the Batoka Project. Zimbabwe has been paying off the principal debt since January this year and they are near completion,” he said.
The principal debt was valued at $70 million with the interest over the years coming to almost $100 with Zambia saying Zimbabwe should pay off the principal first and the interest to be taken in as equity when constructing the Batoka hydro-power project.
Zimbabwe accepted to make the payment but rebuffed Zambia’s claim of $168 million, saying they would just pay the $70 million principal.
But Mr Yaluma said the matter was resolved in Zambia’s favour with payment time stretched to allow for the Southern neighbour some cushion when settling the debt.
He said the plan was to have the principal settled by December this year.
He said already the Environmental Impact Assessment had been done and financiers of the project were expected to take the centre stage of project which was first mooted in 1972.
So far, Zimbabwean media report that six international investors have been short listed on the construction of the 1,600-megawatts hydro-power plant at the Batoka Gorge from an initial list of 26 international investors.
The Batoka hydro-power concept was conceived in 1972 out of a study instituted by CAPCO.
Times of Zambia