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Kafue Gorge Hydro power project impresses Energy Minister

Kafue Gorge Hydro power project impresses Energy Minister

By MICHAEL MIYOBA

ENERGY Minister Peter Kapala says Government is in a hurry to ensure that it engages lenders to help finance the construction of the 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power project which was scheduled to be commissioned in March last year.

Speaking after touring the Hydro Power project, expected to cost US$2.3 billion, Mr Kapala said government will soon engage lenders on how best it can pay off the loans meant to finance the project which will enable Zambia to export power to other countries when commissioned. 

Mr. Kapala said he was impressed with the progress made by the contractor Sinohydro who have continued to work on the project despite the numerous challenges.

Mr Kapala who recently confirmed Zesco’s $3.5 billion debt in Parliament, hailed Zesco Limited Managing Director Victor Mundende  for the works done at the Hydro Power station which was expected to be completed in March last year.

The Minister is hopeful that all the machines will be available by March next year for the project to be concluded. 

“This is quite a serious situation and as government we are in a hurry to look at all these outstanding loans so that we can engage the lenders with a view of restructuring because right now the President has indicated that there is no money.  We need to sit down with the lenders as soon as possible so that we can restructure to ensure ZESCO  can have a breather   until we finish the infrastructure,” Mr Kapala said.

“It is very impressive. I’m a  civil engineer and this plant has been built by mechanical engineers, they learn these things because the mother of engineering is civil so it is quite impressive.   I should congratulate Zesco Managing Director and urge him to keep up the good works and we trust that all the machines will be available by March next year   and then go to the 750 Megawatts transmission. Hopefully we will connect with Tanzania interconnector for exports which will mean more money in our pockets,” he said. 

The minister also hailed the contractor, Sinohydro for their commitment to deliver the project despite the delays in cash flow. 

Meanwhile Zesco Limited Managing Director Victor Mundende who appealed to government to engage the lenders said the Power project has delayed because of the delays in cash flow.  

He disclosed that US$1.5 Billion and US$195Million loans have been acquired to facilitate the project but the lenders have not been consistent in disbursing the funds due to the intended debt restructuring of mid 2018 and the 2019-2020 cross defaults by government. 

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He said the sovereign debt restructuring negotiations of 2020-2021 have also affected the disbursement of funding with the last disbursement having been made in December 2019.  

 

Mr Mundende however noted that two units have been completed and the Power plant is currently generating 300MW of Power out of the 750MW expected to be generated when all works are concluded.

He said  Zesco was looking forward to completing the other three machines and   hopeful that the project will be done by the end of March next year depending on the cash flow. 

He also called on government to help Zesco collect revenue by resolving some of the impasses with big clients such as mines.

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