The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it is willing to support Zimbabwe’s infrastructure needs to transform the country into a competitive economy. There are concerns that key infrastructure such as water, roads, aviation, railways, electricity and communication, is in dire straits; making it difficult for manufacturers to produce at a lower cost.
AfDB principal country economist Walter Odero has indicted the bank’s readiness to support infrastructure development in the country to transform competitiveness.
“We, as African Development Bank, are ready to assist Zimbabwe improve its infrastructure.
“For Zimbabwe we are focusing more on feeder roads than highways because in a country like Zimbabwe, you need more feeder roads than highways,” said Odero.
Research shows that Zimbabwe has an infrastructure gap of $14,2 billion which has to be covered to improve the country’s competitiveness.
This comes as it has emerged that Zimbabwe invested almost $2 billion, cumulatively, on important infrastructure development between 2009 and 2016.
Analysts say instead, Zimbabwe was supposed to have spent $2 billion per year on infrastructure development per year to cover the gap.
In 2013, the AfDB says almost 2 percent of the African continent’s annual growth is lost due to lack of adequate or proper infrastructure.
The AfDB has indicated that 40 percent of Africa’s productive potential is missed due to infrastructure deficiencies.
In the case of Zimbabwe, between $1,6 billion and $2 billion was required per annum since 2009 to try and catch up with the widening infrastructure gap, says the AfDB and the World Bank.
However, due to capital deficiencies, Government has spent a measly $200 million in 2009; $300 million in 2011; $300 million 2012; $100 million in 2013; $200 million in 2014, $300 million in 2015 and $500 million in 2016.
Experts say it is crucial to provide more resources into new infrastructure projects as well as maintain the quality and lifespan of existing infrastructure.
In the last three years, Zimbabwe has invested considerably in power infrastructure principally the Kariba South Extension.
The project saw the country adding 300MW into the national grid.
The expansion project was done by a Chinese firm, Sino Hydro at a cost of $533 million.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa commissioned the project on March 28 this year.
Crucially, another mega power project which will see Hwange Thermal Power Station getting two new units — 7 and 8 — will feed 600MW of electricity into the grid on completion.
The project, which is set to cost $1,1 billion, is now nearing financial closure.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) indicated in January that it had raised $116 million as equity contribution towards the power project.
Sino Hydro is contracted to implement the project, and a ground-breaking ceremony is expected next month.
Already, Sino Hydro is reportedly on site doing preliminary works.
Other infrastructure projects have been on water, where the City of Harare is implementing the rehabilitation of the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant.
The project is being undertaken under a $144 million loan from China Exim Bank.
So far, $72 million has been disbursed under the loan facility.
City of Harare bosses opened Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant to the public between February 6 and 8 this year to improve their understanding of the works done and processes taking place at the plant.