Zimbabwe requires about US$8 billion to construct 37 major water infrastructure facilities, including dams and water purification structures to meet the increasing demands of the growing urban population.
Apart from household consumption, the facilities will feed into electricity generation and irrigation.
This was established at the just ended Water Resources Infrastructure Investment Conference by the Environment, Water and Climate; Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement; Finance and Economic Planning and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministries.
Several investors have since shown interest in funding water infrastructure.
Around 60 investors at the conference were impressed by how Zimbabwe has opened up for business. They pledged to take up the water infrastructure projects before year end.
The completion of these water infrastructure projects will bring water storage capacity to over 70 billion cubic metres and will help the country boost its agricultural yields.
Projects showcased during the conference were given National Project Status.
Part of the conference report reads:
“Muda-Nyatsime Dam in Mashonaland West will cost around US$122,4 million and the bulk of the water supply will be used to help Chitungwiza’s one million population. Glass Block Dam in Matebeleland region will require US$99,8 million and the main purposes of the water will be irrigation, mini-hydro power generation and water supply to the City of Bulawayo.
“Nyatana Dam of Mashonaland East province will need over US$413 million with water supply mainly used for irrigation and power generation. The construction period will take about five years.
“Kudu Dam will need about US$612, 8 million for irrigation and power supply in the Midlands province. Meanwhile, Masvingo’s Runde-Tende Dam will need US$376 million to help in irrigation and energy projects in the province.
“Across the country, over 30 dams will require an average of US$200 million each to be completed within a period of two to five years, mostly for irrigation water, power generation, eco-tourism and water supply for all major cities and towns.”
Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa told investors that Government has adopted a holistic approach that highlights investment opportunities in irrigation, portable water supply for the expanding urban and rural settlements, power generation and eco-tourism.
“This investment conference will undoubtedly go a long way towards harnessing both domestic and foreign direct investment into water infrastructure development in our quest to address multi-faceted challenges and needs in the water sector,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I am optimistic that the conference will stimulate funding for water infrastructure projects and proffer insights into how the country could mitigate the impact of climate change through the building of water storage capacities and devising strategies for the efficient utilisation of available water bodies.
“I am pleased that we are also launching the National Climate Policy which spells out how we can plan to mitigate the effects of climatic change on our environment, human, animal and plant life,” he said. It is believed that Zimbabwe, which has 10 000 dams, ranks second in Africa after South Africa.
Boom for agriculture
Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Dr John Mangudya said there is need to support water infrastructure development to reduce drought induced effects and increase production in the agriculture sector.
“Drought induced effects have significant implications on maintenance of price and financial stability in the economy and hence the central bank’s interest in financing water infrastructure development.
“Despite the shortages of foreign currency, the RBZ has been able to make foreign exchange allocations for the construction of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, Gwai Shangani Dam, Beitbridge Water System, Causeway Dam and Kunzvi Dam,” said Dr Mangudya.
Government is moving to put 350 000 hectares of arable land under irrigation in an effort to ensure national food security. Government is also encouraging beneficiation and export of surplus produce.
“Investment in water infrastructure will hasten the modernisation of our agriculture and complement our renewed mechanisation drive; facilitate the development of our aquaculture under Command Fisheries, livestock and general cropping programmes as we seek to increase productivity,” said the President.
He said adequate water supply would enable the country to establish greenbelts and agriculture-based Special Economic Zones.
Dr Mangudya said it is better to spend more foreign currency on dam construction rather than spending it on finished products and electricity.
If the dams that are currently under construction are completed, Zimbabwe may no longer have to import electricity.
Over 500 MW will be generated from the massive water infrastructure.
In winter, Zimbabwe needs around 1600 MW of electricity every day. The country is currently producing an average of 1200MW.
Imports from South Africa’s Eskom are augmenting local generation.
World Bank arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), has expressed keen interest in investing multi-million dollars in Zimbabwe’s off-grid energy projects to improve power supplies in the country and lessen the burden on main power supplies.
The IFC team are expected to finalise their energy projects in three weeks’ time.
Recently, the IFC said their off-grid power projects will supply electricity to many mines and farmers.