Monday, September 28, 2020

Botswana considers approaches to Zambezi water project

The Botswana government is on the verge of implementing a multi million pula project that will draw water from the Zambezi River for both agricultural and domestic use.

This was revealed to the Sunday Standard by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Boikobo Paya.

He said the Government of Botswana recently completed the audits for the detailed designs of the various engineering components and that of the business development and approved them.

He further said that, considering the magnitude, sophisticated designs and the risks during implementation, the Government still has to consider the merits and demerits of the different approaches of project implementation and that the way forward will be determined by the business case.

On the estimated cost of the project, he said that it is not an easy task to estimate the cost of executing a project of this magnitude because it will depend on the type of contract entered into with the contractor.

He said this followed after the National Water Master Plan Review (NWMPR) study (2006) had projected the water demand for this country up to the year 2035 to be in the order of 100 Mm3 per annum.

He said that the results of the study have advised that Botswana has to consider looking beyond its borders and negotiate for abstraction of water from shared watercourses to augment existing supplies for domestic and industrial use by the year 2022.

He added that this is a water security project, therefore there is need to consider implementing the Chobe-Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme by then. Besides that, the Permanent Secretary said National Agricultural Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development study (NAMPAADD 2000) has indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) requires water immediately for irrigation purposes near Pandamatenga.

Thus water required for irrigation is 495 Mm3 per annum.

He said that the challenges they had met were that the Chobe-Zambezi River is an international river shared with 7 other countries of Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique.
It, therefore, requires for implementation of this project to follow a structured process of notification and submission of environmental impact assessment studies to SADC Zambezi Member States as outlined in the SADC Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses.

Paya said that the Member States were duly notified of this planned measure to abstract 495 Mm3 per annum for domestic and irrigation uses at the Zambezi Ministers of Water Meeting held on 6-9 July 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique.

The Botswana notification was considered and approved at another Zambezi Ministers of Water Meeting that was held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on the 17-21 May 2010.

Last year, Zimbabwe’s Financial Gazette quoted the country’s Minister of Water Resources Development Management, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, as saying, “Zimbabwe has objected to Botswana’s plans to draw water from upper Zimbabwe and this has already been communicated to the Botswana government…”.

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