The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-billion Maloti bi-national project between the Governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa which was established by the Treaty of 1986. The Project harnesses the water resources of the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams for the mutual benefit of Lesotho and South Africa, supplying water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and hydropower to Lesotho.
The first phase (Phase I) of the multi-phased project was completed in 2004 and the second phase (Phase II) is currently underway.
Article 8 of the Phase II Agreement determined that the hydropower generation component of Phase II would comprise a pumped storage scheme utilising the existing Katse Reservoir as the lower reservoir and a new upper reservoir in the Kobong valley, or any other scheme to generate hydropower. This determination was made following the initial hydropower feasibility studies which were conducted in 2008 and 2011.
TThe Agreement further stipulated that the implementation of the Kobong pumped storage scheme is subject to the outcome of further detailed feasibility studies. These further studies will include:
- A market survey
- A transmission line integration study
- Geotechnical investigations
- A study of legal and commercial arrangements
Further feasibility studies
In April 2015, the World Bank approved a grant for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) to conduct further feasibility studies to review the economic and institutional viability of the Kobong Scheme. At the same time, the further feasibility studies will explore alternative viable hydropower generation schemes that will increase the electricity generation capacity in Lesotho towards meeting the country’s electricity requirements.
In April 2015, the World Bank approved a grant for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) to conduct further feasibility studies. In July 2015 the LHDA solicited Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified consultants, and following completion of the evaluation process, six consultants were shortlisted from 24 submissions, to participate in a competitive bidding process. The six shortlisted firms represented a wide international market reach and included at least one firm from a developing country, as the World Bank procurement criteria stipulated. The firms which hail from North and South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa, offer considerable expertise and are expected to yield a high standard of service.
The six shortlisted consultants were provided with the Terms of Reference (as part of the full Request for Proposals pack) towards the end of October 2015 for the further feasibility studies and were invited to submit proposals by 18 December 2015.
The evaluation of the proposals received was concluded in early 2016 and following the approval of the World Bank, the successful bidder, a joint venture of EDF, GIBB and Multiconsult was appointed.
The further feasibility studies which commenced in October 2016 are expected to take approximately fifteen months to complete.