By Matabeleland North Correspondent
ZIMBABWE and Zambia have said the multi-billion Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme project will go a long way in reigniting local industry and providing employment for peoples of the two neighbouring countries.
The council of ministers comprising Ministers of Finance and Energy from the two countries met in Victoria Falls Friday to assess progress made so far in the project which is set to provide 2 400MW of electricity to be shared by both countries.
The whole project scope is US$4 billion to be mobilised from African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and other financiers.
Speaking to journalists at the close of the meeting, Zambia’s Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa who is co-chair said Batoka project is critical to the Sadc region.
“The two countries are in the process of assessing ways of empowering and equipping local industries to ensure that most of the raw materials like cement and steel which are major inputs into the construction of the project are produced locally in Zambia and Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said there will be no brain drain the region as jobs will be created locally, while some ailing industries are resuscitated.
The project, whose implementation is set to begin next year, will create 1 185 direct jobs, 552 indirect jobs, 1 070 induced jobs and 2 450 000 secondary jobs.
Nkhuwa said Batoka project is key in the Sadc region.
“The Ministers noted that BGHES is one of the priority projects under NEPAD and as such has been given a continental status as well as a regional priority under Sadc,” added Nkhuwa.
The project has a corporate social responsibility programmes with 10 projects being done.
Zimbabwe Energy and Power Decelopment Minister Joram Gumbo said the project had recently attracted more attention from potential financiers.
He called for speedy implementation of outstanding work with regards to environmental assessment so as to pave way for start of the project.