17 July 2009 – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia have agreed to develop a $225 million power line that would allow an extra 600 megawatts to be transmitted around the region, an official said on Thursday.

The project, known as Zizabona, is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2010. It seeks to connect the four Southern African countries, all of which plan to boost the amount of power they generate in coming years.

It will ease congestion on a transmission corridor to South Africa, the region’s largest consumer of electricity which is battling to meet demand. It also will allow the four countries to export more power and to trade energy with each other via a regional power pool.

The project also will allow easier transmission of hydropower from the Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa and the rest of the region.

"The four utilities will develop, build and own the transmission infrastructure. This project seeks to reduce losses and congestion on the SAPP central corridor," said Musara Beta, an official from Zimbabwe’s ZESA.

ZESA is one of the four promoters of the project along with Zambia’s ZESCO, Nampower of Namibia and the Botswana Power Company. He was addressing a power conference hosted by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

The Zizabona transmission line will extend from the Hwange substation to a switching station near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, into Livingstone, Zambia. The line will also link Pandamatenga in Botswana and the Zambezi substation in Namibia.

"The project clearly would serve the national electricity needs of all four member countries and the interconnector would also … decongest the central corridor," Beta added.

With the region facing increased power shortages, the SAPP is turning its focus to smaller initiatives with relatively short timelines in order to meet growing demand, which experts say will peak at 100,000MW in 2025.

Apart from the Zizabona link, Zimbabwe’s ZESA has also proposed the construction of a 160 kilometre transmission line to increase the north-south transfer capacity of the Zimbabwe network to 600MW, against the current 200MW.

The proposed Central Transmission Corridor (CTC) project is to be jointly developed by ZESA, which would have a 20 percent shareholding in the venture, while prospective private investors would take up the additional 80 percent.

ZESA chief executive Ben Rafemoyo said the project would require $100 million.

Rafemoyo said the CTC had reached a long-term agreement with South Africa’s Eskom, which is seeking to import more power from the DRC and Mozambique to meet domestic demand.