Boksburg, Johannesburg, April 05, 2013 – Water Resources Minister Sipepa Nkomo has urged water experts to attend a planned water summit, which will be held on April 22 during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
Speaking to delegates, who attended the two day Zimbabwe annual investment conference here and which ended Thursday, Nkomo said the summit to be hosted at the ZITF grounds in Bulawayo, will discuss strategies to finance the rehabilitation of water in Zimbabwe, where over 60 percent of rural boreholes were dysfunctional.
Nkomo also appraised delegates on the ambitious plan to draw water from the Zambezi River for arid regions in Zimbabwe, mainly Matabeleland, saying the project was very much still alive.
The plan to harness water for dry Matabeleland from the Zambezi River was first mooted in 1912, with the project revived in the 1960’s and there after each decade but the project is still to be implemented.
But Nkomo assured delegates to the meeting that now the project was almost set to be implemented.
“We have signed a contract…it will take three years to lay the pipes,” he said, adding that there were enormous economic opportunities around the project.
The Chinese would provide $1,2 billion needed to carry out the project in three phases.
The first would entail the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which would receive water from the Zambezi River, while the second would be the construction of a pipeline from the Gwayi-Shangani Dam to a reservoir in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb. The third and final phase will be the construction of a 245km pipeline from the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
Nkomo said he agreed with the Cabinet that the Zambezi water project was not a Matabeleland issue but a national and regional project as there were eight other countries that will benefit from the harnessing of water from the Zambezi River.
The eight countries, which Nkomo referred to are part of what is known as the Zambezi Water Course Commission (ZAMCOM). They include Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe who all have basins in the Zambezi River. Zambia claims it owns 75 percent of the water basins.
The ZAMCOM Agreement was signed on July 13, 2004 at Kasane in Botswana, by seven of the eight Zambezi Riparian States.
Nkomo said each of the eight member states needed to request the other member state for use of water fromm the Zambezi River.
Nkomo said for example the intention is for Zimbabwe to give water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo and to Francis Town in Botswana, which will share the water with South Africa.
“Botswana requested…we agreed on condition Botswana could extract water when the river is in high tide. They can build reservoirs to fill in during high tide purely because it will affect the Victoria Falls if they do that during the low tide.
“Botswana has appealed because it does not think it will affect the Victoria Falls,” he said.