South African consultancy ERM submits environmental analysis on Batoka

12 January 2018 2 min. read
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The South African arm of consultancy firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) has been contracted by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme. After a preliminary assessment, the firm has presented a first report for the $3 billion project. 

ERM is an international consulting firm, providing services in the environmental, health, safety, risk, and social sectors to firms across the world. Clients of the firm span the public as well as the private sectors, and industry segments include oil and gas, mining, power, manufacturing, chemical and even pharmaceutical.

The firm’s South African arm has been contracted by the ZRA to conduct an ESIA for the monumental Batoka project coming up on the Zambezi river. The multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project is due to be developed in proximity to Victoria Falls, at a considerable distance from the existing Kariba Dam.

The project is a collaborative effort between Zimbabwe and Zambia, designed with the aim of supplying approximately 2,400 Megawatts of power, to be split equally between both countries. The remainder will be sold by the authorities to regional stakeholders.Hydroelectric project ERMThe ESIA was conceptualised primarily in order to ensure that the wide range of stakeholders involved in the project, spanning environmental groups, local water associations, as well as the media and the general public, can all be provided with a realistic overview of the project’s implications.

Once the report has been prepared, it will be released to this range of stakeholders, following which their opinions, reviews, and feedback will be taken into consideration in the early months of 2018. This process will specifically involve the Water Rafters Association, the media, and the general public. So far, ERM has submitted the first draft of the ESIA to the ZRA and the financiers of the project, which is currently undergoing a feasibility evaluation.

Commenting on the report, Christopher Chisense, the Director of Water Resources and Environmental Management for the ZRA said, “This will pave way for the actual implementation of the project with all considerations having been made with respect to inputs from stakeholders. The project will greatly benefit the two countries and the SADC region with regards to increased availability of energy to meet electricity demands, but it will also offer additional investment and job opportunities in the project area and beyond and this additional business venture opportunities are to the rafting community which are currently not available at Batoka.”

The ZRA is also applying the Hydro Power Sustainability Assessment Protocal to the project, with the aim of implementing their sustainability enhancement programme. The supply of water and power resulting from the project will do its bit for the African economy, which heavily relies on sectors such as agriculture and mining.