Taurai Mangudhla Senior Business Reporter
AN UNNAMED Chinese firm linked to the financing and construction of the $3 billion Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme is in discussions with American conglomerate General Electric (GE) for a possible partnership on the mega project, The Herald Business has learnt.
Energy and Power Development Minister Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday confirmed GE had set sights on Batoka and was discussing with a Chinese company to combine forces although he indicated formal discussions with Government were yet to take off.
“They are talking to a Chinese company so that they can work together . . . but don’t forget that this a project that also involves the Zambians,” Ambassador Khaya Moyo said in a telephone interview.
The Minister referred all further questions to his team led by permanent secretary Patterson Mbiriri. Efforts to get responses were fruitless at the time of going to print.
Close sources in Government indicated GE was advancing to meet Zimbabwean officials and formally discuss funding prospects around the mega project.
They have met casually and inquired to get a sense of progress and expectations from the two governments, the source added.
The $3 billion project, to be situated about 60 km downstream of the Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi River which separates the two countries, is expected to improve the two countries’ power supply, currently in deficit and also feed into the Southern African Power Pool.
Both countries’ energy demands are forecast to more than double by 2035.
The latest information comes after GE was in February quoted saying it wants to give Zimbabwe financial and technical support, singling out the Batoka project as a priority area as well as mini hydro-power stations across the country.
GE sub-Saharan Africa Director of Project Development Reginald Max who appeared before the Parliament’s committee on mines and energy said there were a lot of opportunities in Zimbabwe. Max is a Zimbabwean citizen.
GE is a top US conglomerate with a market value of $261,2 billion. Its product and services include aircraft engines, power generation and water processing.
GE’s interest in Zimbabwe later saw a meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the president and CEO of the company in Kigali, Rwanda in March.
President Mnangagwa invited Mr Ireland to Zimbabwe to scout possible areas of investment.
Earlier in March, a team of GE representatives had visited Zimbabwe to explore investment opportunities.