Criticism has been drawn to the planned US$2B project over the numbers of people in the Zambezi valley who would benefit directly from the development, and that about 1400 would be displaced from their homes.

There are also concerns over water management, both upstream at the Cahora Bassa hydro project, and at the 1.3GW dam to protect fields downstream.

The government told the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ review service (IRIN) that the project should boost the economy by creating new jobs and sources of revenue, which would contribute the balance of payments and so broadly assist in poverty reduction efforts.

IRIN also noted that the 2002 feasibility study on the proposed project concluded that the appeared to be low risk of significant adverse impacts on the environment from the project.

No firm date has been set for the construction of the project, for which the Export-Import Bank of China has said it will help to finance.