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LHWP Phase II hydropower component underway

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) marked another significant milestone in the implementation of Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) on 24 October, with the start of procurement for the design and construction supervision of the 80 MW Oxbow hydropower scheme.

This follows the completion of further feasibility studies into the hydropower component of Phase II, which recommended conventional hydropower as the more feasible option to meet Lesotho’s energy needs. Three potential sites were identified:  two on the Senqu river and the third at Oxbow on the Malibamats’o river. In November 2021, the Government of Lesotho confirmed the Oxbow hydropower scheme and gave the go-ahead for the hydropower engineering, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and the Resettlement Action Planning (RAP) studies.

The scope of the hydropower engineering includes a 100 m-high dam, two tunnels, high pressure steel penstock (pipeline), an 80 MW power station, a 132 kV transmission line, all associated infrastructure, such as roads and accommodation, bulk power and telecommunications infrastructure, and enviro-social components.

The enviro-social components will include studies on public health, cultural heritage, terrestrial ecology and water quality elements, resettlement and livelihoods restoration elements to mitigate the impact of the Oxbow scheme on the environment and communities in the project area.

LHDA’s Chief Executive, Tente Tente, says: “The Oxbow scheme is the third major engineering component of Phase II. LHDA is confident that it will attract the interest of local, regional and international consultancies with the experience and expertise to deliver engineering projects of this nature. Given its scope, it will be a significant boost to the engineering and construction sector and the economy of the region.”

Ntsoli Maiketso, LHDA’s Divisional Manager, Phase II, adds: “The Oxbow hydropower scheme increases security of power for Lesotho and will reduce the country’s dependence on electricity imports. The power generated at Oxbow adds to the additional 40 per cent of electricity that will be generated at ’Muela as a result of the increased flow of water from Polihali”.

Water transfer to South Africa will begin in 2028 with the completion of the Polihali dam and transfer tunnel, and the Oxbow hydropower scheme will be commissioned one year later.

Interested companies have until 13 March 2023 to submit their bids.

The procurement for the associated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Resettlement Action Planning (RAP) is taking place concurrently, and Interested bidders are advised to check the Phase II Tender Bulletin section on the LHDA’s website for the Specific Procurement Notices.