Zambia launched on Saturday the construction of a China-aided major hydro-power project, which will go a long way in boosting the country’s electricity generation capacity.
The launch came after the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the two governments for the commencement works on the development of the 750 megawatts Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-power project last month.
The hydro power plant, to be situated in southern Zambia’s Chikankata district, about 90 kilometers from Lusaka, the country’s capital, will become the third largest power plant and the first major investment in the country’s energy infrastructure in 40 years.
The 2 billion U.S. dollars project will be constructed by China’s state-owned Sino Hydro Corporation Limited.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said during the launch that his government will provide 15 percent of the project cost equity funding while the contractor will assist in arranging 85 percent of the total project cost as debt financing from the China Exim Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
“This is a viable project with assured market for its product and therefore recouping the investment we are making is assured. This project also assures us of sustainable energy security as a nation because it will add a significant amount of power to the grid,” the Zambian leader said.
The Zambian leader added that the project comes at a crucial time when the country is facing a power deficit, adding that it is one of the fast-tracked interventions he has directed to ensure that the country gets out of the power deficit.
The project is expected to be completed in four years and about 5,000 jobs will be created during the construction period.
The Zambian leader has since thanked the Chinese firm to winning the tender to build the power plant.
On his part, Sino Hydro Chairman Song Dongsheng thanked the Zambian government for the trust in his company, adding that the company is engaged in various infrastructure projects in Zambia.
He said the company signed a cooperation agreement with the Zambian government in 2003 for various power projects including the Kafue Gorge Lower project.
A training school for its employees will be established by the company at the project site for three-month training courses, said Song.
Yang Youming, the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, urged the company to complete the project within the stipulated period and provide a good service, adding that the launch of the construction works of the projects signals the growing cooperation relations between the two countries.
He further said the cooperation between the two countries is expected to reach another level after the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit to be held in South Africa next month.