Kariba Dam was constructed between 1955 and 1959 (during Federation, with considerable debate over construction on Kafue river in Zambia, see Garfield Todd). It is on the Zambezi river, 620 km downstream from Victoria Falls. It was built and is owned by the Central African Power Company, CAPCO, of which the major shareholders are the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia. [1]


The Dam (16° 32′S 28° 46′E) is a double curvature concrete arch. 128m high. 633m along the crest, 579m wide. There is 975 000m³ of concrete in the dam wall. 1 million m³ of rock was excavated to construct it.
The lake has a capacity of 180 600 million m³. It is the largest man made lake, by volume, in the world. (Lake Volta is the largest by surface area). it has a catchment area of 663 000km². The lake surface (when full) is 5 200km². [2]


The spillway is six gated openings each 9.4 by 9.7 meters. The maximum flood discharge exceeds 9000 m³ per second when fully open.


The South Bank power generators were the first put in (first power generated 1959), comprising six 100MW turbines and generators.
In 1976, the North Bank station was comissioned, consisting of four 150MW generators.
In 1985, work began on rewiring the South Bank generators to increase capacity by 20 percent.
In 1987, there were plans for a third power station, to be constructed on the south bank. Potential annual energy production of Kariba was believed to be 8 500GWh.


In March 1958, an unprecedented flood of 16 000 m³ caused damage and disruption but the construction was completed on schedule.

  1. [R. Kent Rasmussen (ed), Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia] (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1979) Retrieved 8 August 2019"
  2. [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019