17 February 2013

Zimbabwe: AFDB Power Projects Underway

THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has begun rolling out water and power sector rehabilitation projects in several parts of the country under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (Zim-Fund).

In 2010, the international community embarked on a plan to support priority recovery activities of government under Zim-Fund.

AfDB was selected to manage it with the endorsement of the government, the donor community and the United Nations.

Zim-Fund manager, Emmanuel Nzabanita, said two projects valued at US$65 million were currently ongoing with US$35 million being channelled towards electricity and US$30 million for water projects.

"In order for the country to move forward, you need to make sure that your electricity networks are rehabilitated so that you can be able to pump the water to the communities," he said.

Funds under the water project have been designated towards six cities namely Harare, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe and Chegutu.

"We have reached the tipping time, a stage where the citizens of Zimbabwe experience the results of what the bank has been doing on the ground," he said.

The fund was set up by seven countries, in particular the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, with all having contributed a total of US$124 million.

Nzabanita said the bank had been involved in upfront activities, particularly to do with procurement and ensuring that institutions in place were functional, among other objectives. He said two contracts had already been issued, one for the City of Mutare for revamping of water systems and the other for the power transmission network throughout the country.

Nzabanita added that many power blackouts in the cities witnessed recently were due to faulty cables and the inability of transformers to deliver the necessary power.

"This contract has now been signed and people are currently mobilising. We also have a contract for the delivery of sewage cleaning equipment in the six cities," he said.

"The contract for the electricity distribution network will involve buying transformers, building lines to the water pumping stations and generally improving the quality of power supply in the country."

Both contracts are ready for implementation.

Turning to Zimbabwe's precarious debt situation, AfDB regional director Ebrima Faal said the macro-economic programme that government designed and the International Monetary Fund's Staff Monitoring Programme were starting points to get rid of the arrears and normalise relationships.

"When countries experience arrears, where they are not paying obligations, then investment activities are suspended until the arrears are cleared and regularised.

"The international community gets together to say we also want to help you to get out of this situation, therefore we want to engage with you through accepted processes to try to write off the debt and arrears," he said.

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