Flashback: RB commissions US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-electric Power Station

This is exactly the same project president Edgar Lungu was launching yesterday.

July 21, 2011 (Zambia Daily Mail)

PRESIDENT Banda yesterday commissioned the construction of the US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-electric Power Station which will add 750 megawatts of power to the national grid once completed in 2017.

The project, which will create about 300 direct jobs for indigenous Zambians, is being implemented under the public- private partnership made up of Zesco, Sino Hydro Corporation and the China Africa Development Fund.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony in Namalundu Gorge in Kafue, Mr Banda said the power station is one of the most important components of Government’s strategy to meet the growing energy demand in the country and the region.

“The energy sector is essential for the smooth functioning of our industrial sector and must be expanded as quickly as possible. Zambia’s power needs have been increasing faster than projected, largely due to the rapid growth of our economy which has averaged 6.4 percent over the last six years,” President Banda said.

The mining and agricultural sectors have registered increased growth during the last five years. The mining sector grew from 2.5 percent rate in 2008 to 15.2 percent in 2010, while agriculture grew by more than 6.6 percent in the same year.

The President said the growth rate must be planned ahead to keep pace with the rising demand for power.

Mr Banda said Government’s strategy is to facilitate the growth of small businesses in rural areas, by initiating more rural electrification programmes through Zesco and the Rural Electrification Authority.

President Banda said the strategy is designed to support agriculture and other formal and informal businesses which create employment in rural areas.

He said communities do not immediately see the long-term benefits of large-scale projects like the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-power Station and it is necessary to ensure that the communities see rewards from such projects.

“In this case, the commencement of this project will open up opportunities for employment and enhance the overall development of Kafue Gorge area,” he said

The project will entail building new roads, houses, hospitals and schools while some existing infrastructure will be expanded.

He said the project will boost local businesses including small and medium enterprises dealing in cement, steel and other building materials which will be sourced locally.

President Banda said besides power generation, Government is also paying close attention to the power distribution and transmission system.

Government has initiated measures to improve the efficiency of the power distribution system and ensure its expansion beyond urban centres to rural areas and communities where electricity is on high demand.

Minister of Energy and water Development Kenneth Konga said the implementation of the project is an indication that Government’s policies are being effectively executed.

Southern Province Minister Elijah Muchima said it is painful that opposition parties have continued to condemn President Banda’s administration even when Government is implementing projects like the Kafue Gorge Lower project.

Chinese ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao urged Syno Hydro Corporation to employ local Zambians and pay them rewarding salaries.

Mr Zhou said the contractor should also ensure that it observes labour laws and respects its employs.

He said by the end of 2010, China’s investment in Zambia has accumulated to about US$2 billion, covering sectors like mining, power generation and transmission, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and telecommunications.

Special assistant to the president of Sino Hydro Corporation Wang Minsheng said his company is committed to the completion of the project in time.

[Zambia Daily Mail]

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