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Defaults by Zambia and Zim raise Batoka Gorge hydro-electric project cost to $5 billion

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By Bloomberg News


Sovereign defaults by both Zambia and Zimbabwe have escalated the Batoka Gorge hydro-electric project cost, with the estimated price climbing 23% to almost $5 billion.

The plan, which is being developed by General Electric and Power Construction Corporation of China Ltd., needs credit support, the Zambezi River Authority said in an emailed response to questions.

This may be raised through development bank guarantees, government guarantees or partial credit and risk guarantees, the agency, which is overseeing the construction of the project, said.

Both southern African countries rely on the Kariba Dam, the world’s largest man-made reservoir, to generate power. The Batoka project includes a 181-meter (594-foot) high dam and two power stations on either bank of the Zambezi river and will generate 2,400 megawatts.

Building was planned to start in 2020, but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and is yet to begin. The developers are also seeking tax incentives from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.