Rehabilitation of Kariba Dam is expected to start in May after Zimbabwe and Zambia signed off a $300 million financing deal with the European Union and World Bank.
The project, which is also being co-financed by the Swedish Government and African Development Bank (AfDB) through a mix of loans and grants, entails reshaping the plunge pool and refurbishment of the six spillway gates.
The AFDB will provide a $36 million grant and a $39 million loan, the EU a $68 million grant while Sweden approved a $25 million grant.
The World Bank will avail a $75 million loan while the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA)- bilateral organization which manages the dam on behalf of the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe is expected to contribute $19.2 million.
The project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Kariba Dam maintenance Engineer, Farai Furusa told journalists during a tour that the risk of the dam wall failing was not immediate.
“There are fault lines that run underneath the dam wall and there is risk that the water will continue to dig under wall and seep through to the other side. So it is a real risk that the dam could fail,” he said.
Kariba was commissioned in 1960 but engineers used concrete that was not reinforced on parts of the wall.
It provides water for generation of over half of electricity requirements for Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Last year the ZRA cut water allocations for power generation to the two countries because of low dam levels.
The authority has allocated 30 billion cubic metres for power generation for 2017, from 20 billion cubic metres last year, but that figure will be reviewed in March.
Dam levels have since improved but hydrology experts say it would take three seasons of normal to above normal rainfall to have water levels return to traditional levels.
Kariba Dam is 76 percent full, but the usable storage is at 26 percent, from 12 percent last year.-The Source