ZESCO says the failure to beat the completion deadline for the Kafue Gorge Lower power plant of April this year, will not affect the original project cost of US$2 billion. The new date is September – a further four months delay.
The project which started in November 2015 will add a further 750MW to the existing 2,337 MW national generation capacity once completed and possibly end rolling power blackouts that houses, and businesses are subject to daily.
ZESCO spokesperson, Henry Kapata said there are no losses that will be incurred (due to the delay) as all the materials have been acquired. He said what has “held up the project” is the expertise required to perform further tests to make sure the station is ready.
The project is financed through a public – private partnership between ZESCO and Exim Bank of China, a state-owned policy bank dedicated to supporting China’s foreign trade, investment and international economic corporation.
The Zambia government pumped US$186 million into the project million at its initial stage.
ZESCO board chairperson – Dr. Mbita Chitala, in an interview with ZNBC, announced that works at the power plant are ongoing and have only been delayed by the Chinese contractors who are stuck in Wuhan – China, where they had gone for the new year celebrations.
Wuhan is the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, the origin of the coronavirus that is ravaging the world. Some of the Chinese workers on the payroll of Sinohydro Zambia Ltd, the main contractor, are from China.
While the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower will no doubt add the much-needed electricity to the country and perhaps allow more customers, ZESCO has other challenges. Between 2016 and 2018, the company recorded financial loses ranging from K2.8 billion in the 2018 to K137 million in 2016.