World Bank launches billion dollar Africa power plant study


The World Bank has launched a study for the construction of a billion dollar electricity generation plant in Zambia, which would ease power shortages across southern Africa, an official said on Wednesday.

The bank said the feasibility study, which will cost $6 million, will be carried out in the next six months and will eventually lead to the construction of the power station.

"In the next three years, we expect the physical construction of the power station to start," said Javier Calvio, an official from the bank's private arm, International Finance Corp (IFC).

The project will cost $1 billion, he said.

Calvio said the 700 megawatts Kafue Gorge Lower Hydroelectric project will be the largest hydropower station to be financed under a public-private sector arrangement in Africa.

The project will be financed by the Zambian government, IFC, Africa Development Bank and the Development Bank of South Africa, Calvio said.

Most countries in southern Africa, including Zambia, have been experiencing power shortages that has led to electricity rationing and black outs in the region.

Zambia's electricity deficit is at 400 megawatts and the new station will fill the gap once operational while the remaining power will be exported to the region.

Power generated at the Kafue Gorge, in central Zambia, would be fed into an electricity grid that serves more than a dozen countries in southern Africa.

A number of countries in the region have been experiencing blackouts amid growing demand with South Africa, the area's economic powerhouse, facing regular power cuts since the start of the year.