American Multinational Conglomerate, General Electric (GE) Corporation has expressed interest in investing in the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Power Project. GE wrote the parliamentary committee on Mines and Energy and were invited to present their proposal before the committee and members of the media.
Addressing members of Parliament, GE’s Director for Project Development in Africa, Mr. Reginald Max spoke of GE’s investment history in Zimbabwe and Africa, and the many infrastructural development projects that they have been involved in.
By Pearson Mbendera
“As General Electric, we have been part of Zimbabwe development for a very long period of time. We are a very large company with various interest in power, energy, healthcare, aviation and locomotives,” said Mr Max.
The Batoka project is located on the Zambezi River, approximately 54km away from Victoria Falls and will have the capacity of churning out 1600MW of electricity.
With GE already invested in 73% of all power bases in Africa, they have the technology and the ability to take on such a huge project.
The Batoka Hydro Electric project was proposed in the early 1990s and by 2009, it was estimated that the costs would be $2.8 billion. The costs have since gone up with a 2014 study pegging the costs at $4 billion.
GE has invested $2 billion in Nigeria, $500 million in Kenya last year and looks set to make a big investment in Zimbabwe.
Mr Max went on to express his opinions on Zimbabwe, calling Zimbabwe a misunderstood nation.
“Zimbabwe has been misunderstood. We come here with the full understanding of the economic situation in Zimbabwe and we are willing to engage in Batoka. Batoka will make Zimbabwe self sufficient,” said Mr Max.
The parliamentarians wanted to know what GE would be willing to give to the government in terms of ownership of the project and Mr Max emphasized that GE as a company wasn’t interested in owning the project but in just investing in the project and that the government will be the owner of the project.
The General Electric representative also said that, should they be given the project, they will work within the plan of ZESA and will localize, employing and training the locals. GE motto on such projects is, “Hire local, train local and help the GE brand become local.”
The Batoka project has encountered a lot of resistance from the locals as the development of such a project will result in the inundation of land and possible reduction in natural habitat as well as the displacement of people.
The Batoka Gorge is already a tourist attraction, generating employment for thousands of local people whose livelihoods will be disturbed with the power project.