World Bank nods $100m


to revamp Kariba damThe World Bank has approved a US$75 million International Development Association (IDA) credit and US$ 25 million grant for the rehabilitation of the Kariba dam.

The project aims to assist the Zambezi River Authority in securing the long-term safety and reliability of the Kariba dam hydro-electric scheme.

The project, with total financing of $300 million, was being co-financed by the African Development Bank and the European Union and would help the Zambezi River Authority, which is responsible for the management of the Kariba dam, to reshape the dam’s plunge pool and refurbish its spillway, as well as improve dam operations in order to bring it up to international safety standards.

The World Bank’s board of executive directors approved the funding from the Swedish government to Zambia

World Bank vice president for Africa Makhtar Diop said the rehabilitation of the Kariba dam was an important component of the World Bank’s larger programme for boosting the energy security of Southern Africa.

Mr Diop however noted that there was much more to be done in reaching that goal but the approval marked an important milestone in securing the Kariba dam for the coming decades.

And both Zimbabwe and Zambia finance ministers Patrick Chinamasa and Alexander Chikwanda said the Kariba dam was woven into the social and economic lives of the two countries.

“We remain strongly committed to our continued partnership in ensuring that the benefits of regional cooperation flow directly to the people of our countries. We welcome the World Bank’s and Government of Sweden’s financing for the urgently needed rehabilitation works at Kariba. Our top priority is to ensure the dam continues to meet international safety standards,” they said in a statement.

World Bank country director for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi Kundhavi Kadiresan said the  project was a testimony to the power of perseverance and cooperation between governments and development partners and that the bank was pleased to have played an important role in getting this far.

“We remain deeply committed to ensuring that the same spirit of cooperation remains the hallmark during project implementation,” said Ms Kadiresan.

The bank noted that the Kariba dam had been in operation for more than 50 years and the proposed interventions were well timed.

Senior water resources specialist at the World Bank and task team leader for the Kariba dam rehabilitation project Marcus Wishart said the project represented best technical practices in complex dam rehabilitation and was designed to ensure that adequate attention was given to the environmental and social aspects during implementation.

The Zambezi River Authority has undertaken a series of studies and assessments to identify refurbishment of the spillway and reshaping of the plunge pool so that after nearly 60 years in operation, the Kariba dam could continue to operate in accordance with international dam safety standards.

Cross-border energy trade made possible by the Kariba dam hydro-electric scheme is central to increasing access to electricity and lowering costs for millions of people.

The project supports the development strategy of the Southern Africa Power Pool, a framework established in 1995 to provide regional solutions to electricity generation for the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community.

The Kariba dam, built between 1956 and 1959 with support from IBRD, provides more than 50 percent of Zambia and Zimbabwe’s electricity, benefiting an estimated four and a half million people.

During these six decades, the dam has been a key driver of regional growth and development and a major source of flood control and river flow management in the Zambezi River basin.

The reservoir contributes to the regional economy and the surrounding area, supporting fisheries, tourism operations, irrigation for agriculture and drinking water for local towns and villages.