HomeRegional NewsInternationalCross border interconnection - Africa takes charge of its power infrastructure challenges

Cross border interconnection – Africa takes charge of its power infrastructure challenges

10 May 2010 – It is common knowledge that without adequate power supply, Africa’s growth will be stunted.  A number of projects are springing up to alleviate the power deficit problems that have a negative ripple effect on development.

One key cross-border is the ZIZABONA project involving Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia with progress currently at environmental impact assessment (EIA) level.
The project, an acronym for the four countries, is a US$225 million transmission project that will develop new transmission lines to link the four neighbouring countries.  Committed to the success of the project are the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), Botswana Power Company, and Nampower (the Namibian power utility).
ZIZABONA, which is expected to be completed in two phases between 2010 and 2013, will ease congestion on the transmission corridor to South Africa in addition to making it easier for the four countries to trade power with each other.
The first phase of the project will consist of the construction and development of transmission infrastructure in Zimbabwe and Zambia. About 91km of 330kV line between the Hwange sub-station in Zimbabwe and a proposed switching station near the Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe will be constructed.
A further 14km 330kV line would then be constructed from the switching station to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. The Zambian authorities will simultaneously undertake the construction of a 14km 330-kV line from a proposed Livingstone switching station to the Zimbabwe/Zambia border as well as re-route the existing Victoria Falls power station 220kV line into and out of the proposed Livingstone sub-station.

The second phase of the project will involve the construction of more transmission lines between Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia as well as the construction and extension of sub-stations in these countries.
Meanwhile, construction of transmission lines for electricity from Zambia to the Tanzanian national grid is progressing well. The power will be transmitted from Serenje, Zambia, through Mbeya, Dar-es-Salaam, Singida and Arusha, Tanzania, to Nairobi, Kenya.
The project, which is estimated to cost US$650 million, will be implemented in two phases of US$300 million and US$350 million respectively. It is anticipated that the project will convey 400MW from Zambia to Tanzania and 300MW from the Tanzanian national grid to Kenya.
It is hoped that the Zambia-Tanzania- Kenya power transmission line will increase the amount of power available, reduce power shortages, enhance security of supply and foster economic and regional integration.
Once the project is finalised, Zambia will have a strategic role in the East African Community (EAC) and SADC member-countries because of its geographical location – apart from encouraging investment in new hydro-power generation projects.  The project covers a 700km double circuit 330kV transmission line from Zambia to Mbeya in Tanzania and a 260km 330kV transmission line between Arusha and Nairobi in Kenya. Financiers include the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). It will also help strengthen the ZESCO 66kV networks and interconnect TANESCO (the Tanzanian utility) to the SAPP grid.
Another project is the South Africa Power Market (SAPM) which covers the Zambia-DRC Interconnector. As part of the SAPM project, an additional 220kV transmission line configured in a dual-circuit arrangement is to be built to strengthen the existing electrical interconnection between Zambia and the DRC. The project also includes refurbishment of the converter station at Kolwezi and the alternating current (AC) transmission lines to Karavia and up to the border with Zambia.
The DRC side of the project is being financed by the World Bank and implemented by SNEL, the national utility of the DRC. Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) is financing and implementing the Zambian component of the SAPM project.