A delegation from MDH South Africa (Pty) Limited is in Zambia to marshal support from relevant government departments and agencies for an ambitious power project that has been proposed on the Luangwa River in the Eastern Province.
The delegation comprises MDH Project Director Mr. Zander Van Der Walt, and Technical Leader Mr. John Nutt of Delf Consulting Engineers. They are accompanied by First Secretary in Charge of Trade and Economics at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria, Mr. Mande Kauseni. The trip to Zambia follows recent high level engagements between Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba and MDH officials in Pretoria.
MDH South Africa has proposed what they are calling the Ndevu Gorge Power Project which is planned on the Luangwa River with a generation capacity of 235 Mega Watts.
Mr. Van de Walt is impressed with the support that has been pledged by Zambian authorities from the meetings held in Lusaka so far. He has indicated that his company was ready to start feasibility studies in a couple of weeks once authority was granted.
According to Mr. Van der Walt, the meetings were all exceptionally positive with support from all ministries and agencies engaged.
The company has since made an application for ‘Authority to Proceed with Feasibility’ through Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary, Brigadier General Emelda Chola.
The delegation has held meetings with officials from the Office for Promotion of Private Power Investments (OPPPI) and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) while further engagements are planned with ZESCO, the Water Resources Management Agency (WARMA) and ZCCM-IH, before the delegation which has been in Lusaka the whole of this week, returns to South Africa today.
Head of the OPPPI Mr. Clement Sasa, hailed the project pointing out that it could be possible to plan the route of the new regional transmission interconnector between Mozambique and Zambia in such a manner that it incorporated the Ndevu Gorge Hydro Power plant so as to assist with evacuation of power from the plant.
ERB Director for Economic Regulation Mr. Alfred Mwila said his institution was in support of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as a strategy to alleviate Zambia’s current energy deficit.
Mr. Mwila confirmed that the ERB’s investigation into the establishment of a “Wheeling Policy”, whereby IPP’s can “wheel” power over the ZESCO network to other off-takers (other than ZESCO) was ongoing and the first reports in this regard were expected in April 2018; which was well within MDH’s proposed feasibility process period.
Mr. Van der Walt reiterated that although MDH’s would be the anchor developer of hydro power project, which would be the catalytic activity for the establishment of Lake Ndevu, all relevant government departments and agencies together with selected private sector stakeholders were invited to form part of a larger planning committee to establish a master plan for incorporating the developmental and commercial opportunities the lake would bring.
“It is critical that local communities are the primary beneficiaries of such developments. We would, therefore, like to invite the Government of Zambia to walk with us down this road to establish this project as a beacon of hope in illustrating the nexus of commercial opportunities for private capital, with the social and economic advancement of local communities that benefit through sustainable jobs, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities – all in all, inclusive and sustainable economic development.”
Mr. van der Walt further confirmed that discussions with investors were positive and ongoing and was expecting to conclude feasibility funding negotiations soon after the ‘Authority to Proceed with Feasibility’ from the Ministry of Energy was issued.
The Ndevu Gorge Hydro Power project is a proposed 235MW power project based on the build of a double curvature dam wall on the Luangwa River creating a large lake of 165 kilometres in length and 17 kilometres in width, at its widest point.
The initial cost projection for the construction of the project is US$1.26 billion, however this figure could change during the feasibility phase as the design aspects are finalised.
The project is planned as a “multi-use” asset, which apart from the hydro power capacity, will also allow for primary irrigation-based agriculture around the lake. This access to irrigation coupled with the careful planning of the relevant agricultural crops could have a transformative economic development effect on an area that has been largely devoid of social and economic developmental activity.
The lake further offers aquaculture development opportunities, especially Tilapia and Kapenta. It is also foreseeable that the creation of a lake in such a pristine natural area would catalyse a multitude of tourism based opportunities including hotels and lodges, as well as lake-based activities such as Tiger fishing. The additional water should also have a positive effect on conservation activities of the area and this is specifically included in the planning phases of the project.