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GE, PowerChina to build $4bn Zambia-Zimbabwe hydropower plant

The 2,400-megawatt Batoka Gorge plant has been planned for years by the two southern African nations, both of which are struggling with electricity shortages after a drought curbed hydropower output

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Hydro, GE, Power, Powerchina

Zimbabwe and Zambia chose General Electric Co. and Power Construction Corp. of China to build a $4 billion hydropower project straddling their border, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

The 2,400-megawatt Batoka Gorge plant has been planned for years by the two southern African nations, both of which are struggling with electricity shortages after a drought curbed hydropower output. General Electric and Power China are in a consortium that was shortlisted in February to build the facility.

“Zambia and Zimbabwe have agreed on this project. We have all agreed that we give it to GE — China Power and GE together,” Mnangagwa said in an interview in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, where he attended this week’s US-Africa Business Summit. “It’s critical that we move fast on that front because it’s necessary that as we industrialize that we need electricity.”

While the project will address electricity shortages, it’s on the same river — the Zambezi — that has left the downstream Kariba hydropower dam at less than 30% storage capacity and producing less than half its intended electricity. The Zambezi’s water flows in 2019 are near the lowest in half a century, and even worse than during the last severe drought in 2014-15.

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