Transfer deal on Cahora Bassa hydro in January

30 December 2005

Maputo, Mozambique, 30 Dec – Portugal and Mozambique will sign a final accord to transfer control of the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam from Lisbon to Maputo in January, the African state’s energy minister has said.

Salavdor Namburete told Mozambican state news agency AIM on Thursday that the accord to boost Maputo’s stake in the giant Zambezi river hyrdo from 18 percent to a controlling 85 percent was due to have been inked this month.

However, “technical difficulties” prevented this and officials from both countries are working to fix a date for the final deal, expected to take place January in Maputo, said Namburete, adding that he would travel to Portugal next week to finalize details of the bilateral accord.

After years of negotiations on the future of the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric company (HCB), Lisbon and Maputo agreed that ownership of the huge dam would pass to Mozambique after Portugal transferred most of its 82 percent stake in the company to its former colony.

The main stumbling block in talks on HCB had been the debt claimed by the Portuguese state for the maintenance of the dam and its construction in Lisbon’s colonial era. Frequent government changes in Portugal also delayed the two-way negotiations.

Maputo has agreed to pay US$ 950 million to the Portuguese Treasury by the end of 2006, less than half the debt originally claimed by Lisbon.

HCB is the largest hydroelectric dam in southern Africa and its main customer is South African power utility Eskom. (macauhub)