TOKWE-Mukosi, now the country’s largest inland dam, is set to attract investments worth millions of dollars, but there is need to come up with a sustainable investment programme to make opportunities attractive to investors.
The dam, completed in December last year is expected to spur economic boom not only in the host province, Masvingo, but the whole nation. While the main economic value of the dam will be derived from its use for irrigation to enhance agriculture production, the dam will also provide investment opportunities in tourism, power generation and ethanol production with potential to create thousands of jobs.
Both existing and new irrigation schemes, mini hydro-power plant, hospitality and recreational facilities, a game park, fisheries and crocodile farms are expected to be developed.
Some of the overlapping benefits include the upgrading of the Buffalo Range Airport as well as improvement in the livelihoods of the local communities through job creation. There would also be a broader participation of communities in agriculture.
At a yield of 364 000 mega-litres per annum, Tokwe Mukosi will have sufficient water to irrigate up to 25 000 hectares. The land that could be irrigated stretches as far as the Hippo Valley Estates to the eastern parts of the province and down Runde River to the south. This will cover both commercial farming and communal farmland.
Now 67 percent full, the dam will hold 25 percent of dammed water in Zimbabwe outside Kariba.
This week, we carried a report which quoted Deputy Agriculture Minister Davis Marapira saying Masvingo province can be a model to implement command irrigation where Government would encourage production of certain crops under irrigation to produce enough food for local consumption and for export.
Masvingo already has the highest dam density in the country with more than five major dams, but the bulk of them supply water exclusively to Lowveld sugar cane plantations.
As rightly pointed out in his presentation to senior Government officials who visited the dam on Monday ahead of its commissioning next month, IDBZ chief executive Thomas Zondo Sakala said the dam presented various economic opportunities.
The opportunities could, however, be easily slowed if the opportunities generated are not approached, planned and implemented in a co-ordinated manner with clear deliverables.
It is, therefore, critical to look at these economic projects as part of an integrated economy around Tokwe Mukosi and that the planning, development and promotion of these projects for investment should involve all stakeholders in a well-coordinated and results-oriented manner.
There is need for a project identification process whose objective would be to identify all possible economic projects, identify the key stakeholders and create the framework for preparing the identified projects for investment promotion.
We also believe that Government should put in place a co-ordinated investment programme to identify critical infrastructure requirements and financing mechanisms for each main infrastructure component.
On the implementation of projects, Mr Sakala said emphasis should be placed on tapping into private capital through joint ventures and the public private partnerships.
The completion of Tokwe-Mukosi was one of key deliverables of Zim-Asset , the country’s medium term economic blueprint. All key stakeholders should start working toward full utilisation of the this critical resource.