Lake Gwayi-Shangani Masterplan a critical NDS1 cog

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Business | 0 comments


Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

The launching of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani master plan is a step in the right direction, towards implementing infrastructure developed towards meeting the country’s economic goals and plans.

Writing for the World Bank, authors Rana Amirtahmasebi, Mariana Orloff and Sameh Wahba define a master plan as a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development and involves analysis, recommendations, and proposals for a site’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities, and land use.

It is based on public input, surveys, planning initiatives, existing development, physical characteristics, and social and economic conditions.

Government which is providing $2.2billion towards the completion of the renamed Lake Gwayi-Shangani being constructed in Matebeleland North Province, have set in motion the lake master plan and with it the achievements of NDS1.

The lake which on completion will be the third largest inland dam after Tugwi-Mukosi Dam and Lake Mutirikwi in Masvingo is envisaged to be a panacea for the perennial water problems for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province and Matabeleland North.

It is also part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and will provide a permanent water solution to the region.

The dam whose master plan will include plans for tourism, agriculture and food security including aquaculture, value chain infrastructure development, health and well-being (leisure) will also include other projects that will come out of the dam and pipeline. Many downstream industries will benefit as several spin-offs will come from the dam.

Looking at the government compendium of projects, the lake is listed as to support Bulawayo City water, support irrigation fed agriculture, tourism and power supply for a hydro-electric power plant that will add 10MW to the national grid is envisaged.

The dam, though being constructed in Hwange district, will directly benefit Lupane District which also hosts the Matabeleland North Capital Lupane and the Lupane State University.

The growth and development of Lupane as a provincial capital has been slowed down by lack of a constant supply of water.

The Lake Gwayi-Shangani master plan is to include over 10 000 hectares of land adjacent to the dam being cleared to make way for an extensive irrigation scheme.

For an area that is in the natural farming region five and therefore receives rainfall that is below 500mm this is the most critical gain from the dam.

It ensures food sustainability not just for those involved in the irrigation projects but for the region. This also dovetails into the turning Matabeleland North green project and the achievement of the national thrust for a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.

Bulawayo City industrial capacity and economic growth has for years been affected by lack of water and the fact that the Bulawayo Thermal Power Plant is mostly down and not functioning.

With Lake Gwayi-Shangani poised to augment the Nyamandhlovu/Epping Forest Bulawayo Water Augmentation Project, which was launched by President Mnangagwa recently, Bulawayo water woes will be a thing of the past. Government has already allocated $535 million towards the construction of the 245km pipeline from the dam to the city.

The dam is definitely an excellent opportunity for the devolution agenda by the Government and also to meet the Economic targets set by the agriculture and tourism sector and the attainment of the National Development Strategic Agenda 1.

With Tourism set at a target to develop a $5 billion tourism economy by year 2025, Lake Gwayi-Shangani will play a very central role. Given that Hwange National Park is within striking distance of the lake, this means that the development of tourism facilities around the lake will enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the already developed facilities around Hwange national Park.

There are certainly a lot of economies of scale there. Hwange National Park will also have access to a perennial water supply since currently it gets its water from boreholes.

Apart from the economic benefits first to the regional and then the national economy that are going to be obtained when the lake is finished, there are the local microeconomies which have certainly benefited from the current construction. Local shop owners and suppliers of construction material and hardware have benefited and will benefit from the $2.2billion further poured into the project. The workers who get paid also purchase from local shops further boosting money circulation in the local economy and growth.

Local communities are the largest beneficiaries to date and will continue to do so in the near future. Jobs from construction as labourers have immensely boosted their social and economic well-being. The economic spin-offs from the construction including key infrastructure development will also benefit them in perpetuity. Livestock production and gardens for horticulture are being carried out and will only grow bigger and better further augmenting their incomes and nutrition.