Zimbabwe turns to private sector to fund $5bln water infrastructure projects

Zimbabwe turns to private sector to fund $5bln water infrastructure projects

HARARE, June 1 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has turned to the private sector to raise over $5 billion to finance water infrastructure projects, including the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), citing the paucity of state coffers and will hold a conference later this month to highlight investment opportunities in the sector, a minister said on Monday.

Zimbabwe’s infrastructure is crumbling following decades of underinvestment. Since independence, government has been the principal funder of water-related infrastructure projects but has been struggling to raise finance for new developments, with some failing to take off completely while work in progress has taken longer to complete.

Last month, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government was struggling to raise the $30 million needed to complete the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, potentially the country’s largest inland dam which has been under construction since June 1998.

Water and environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Monday told a press briefing that government would hold a conference on water investment to engage the private sector on the available investment opportunities.

“Government has found it prudent to engage investors and the private sector for partnerships so as to complete various water infrastructure projects around the country,” said Kasukuwere.

“Therefore our starting point towards exploring growth in the water sector is the upcoming Water Infrastructure Investment Conference between June 24 and 26 in Harare.”

Among the projects that require funding is the MZWP which is seen as the cure to Bulawayo’s perennial water problems and is projected to cost $1,4 billion.

The MZWP is among the major highlights of an ambitious list of infrastructural developments government listed in the government’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).

It was first mooted in 1912 but has failed to take off under successive governments.

The project aims to draw water from the Zambezi River to Zimbabwe’s former industrial hub and communities in-between and will entail the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam.