Zimbabwe: Dam Building Gets Top Priority

Part of the Chicamba Dam in Manica province in Mozambique (file photo).
23 December 2020

Treasury says it will prioritise the completion of key water bodies in 2021 given their significance to the overall performance of the Zimbabwean economy.

Estimated funding for dam infrastructure in the 2021 National Budget is $10,7 billion.

The country is largely an agriculture-based economy, with most of its industrial output back-linking to the sector. And according to official estimates, the sector also contributes approximately 17 percent to Zimbabwe's gross domestic product (GDP).

But beyond just facilitating the agriculture sector, dam infrastructure is an integral part of basic infrastructure insofar as it offers indispensable benefits in the form of hydro-power, domestic and industrial water supply, flood control, drought mitigation, navigation and recreation.

"Overall support for dam projects amount to $10,7 billion, with focus on Gwayi-Shangani and Chivhu dams that are targeted for completion during 2021," said Treasury in its 2021 Zimbabwe Infrastructure Investment Programme document.

"While both Marovanyati and Causeway Dams have been physically completed, the provision covers for outstanding certificates, irrigation conveyancing infrastructure and other minor works on the projects."

It is expected that execution on other dams such as Bindura, Dande, Tuli Manyange, Semwa and Silverstroom will be sustained with funding from the fiscus.

This includes commencement works on Kunzvi Musami, Zimunya and Vungu Dams.

Government has said completion of Gwayi-Shangani Dam is being accorded top priority with an allocation of $4,5 billion.

"Completion of the dam would mark the first phase of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, meant to provide a long term solution to the water challenges facing the City of Bulawayo, whilst also creating a green belt that will benefit communities along the pipeline," reads the infrastructure investment strategy paper.

"Furthermore, the Government has allocated $535 million to ZINWA to enable the parastatal immediately undertake detailed designs, including commencement of works on the conveyancing infrastructure to Bulawayo."

Effective and efficient water supply will ensure that Zimbabwe can better deal with the macro-economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which might be here for some time despite recent breakthroughs in a vaccine.

A functional agriculture sector can at least ensure that the local industry remains with a constant supply of raw materials, as well as ensuring internal food security.

Government has allocated $200 million towards water use master plans for Gwayi-Shangani, Marovanyati, Dande, Semwa, Kunzvi and Causeway Dams.

And some key dam projects will be implemented via public private partnership (PPP) arrangements.

"Through the private sector, project development activities are progressing for dam projects being implemented under the Public Private Partnership arrangement such as Muda-Nyatsime, Runde Tende, Glassblock, Kondo-Chotowe, being coordinated through the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency," said the Government.

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