Kariba Dam electricity crisis prompts private talks between Zambia and Zimbabwe leaders

January 10, 2023
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Lusaka, Zambia – Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has announced plans to hold private talks with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Emmerson Mnangagwa, over the management and use of the hydro plant at the Kariba Dam. The dam, which is jointly managed by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe through the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), has seen reduced electricity generation on both sides due to low water levels.

“Many factors have contributed to our current state of low electricity generation but most importantly, systems and information sharing, including optimal use of this shared resource, are being largely ignored,” President Hichilema said during a tour of the dam on Sunday.

The dam, built between 1955 and 1959 by Italian company Impregilo, now known as Webuild, once supplied 1,626 megawatts of electricity to both countries. However, the current crisis has highlighted the need for better communication and cooperation between the two countries.

“We will engage all stakeholders about this,” President Hichilema added in a tweet. “My counterpart [Mnangagwa] on the other side may have a view slightly different from mine. That’s okay, that’s fine. But I believe he too will be concerned; I will be speaking to him tonight [Sunday] or tomorrow [Monday].”

The talks, which will involve “relevant stakeholders” and will be mediated by the foreign ministers of both countries, are aimed at fostering a better working relationship between the two countries. “We want the best for Zimbabwe, and I believe Zimbabwe wants what’s best for Zambia,” President Hichilema said.

ZRA CEO Munyaradzi Munodawafa also called for higher penalties for the overuse of water at the dam, as a way to address the issue. “They can overuse and pay the penalties,” he said.

The Kariba Dam crisis is a reminder of the importance of effective communication and cooperation in managing shared resources. The upcoming talks between the two leaders are an opportunity to address the issue and find a lasting solution for the benefit of both countries.