Pan Africa focused multi-disciplinary civil engineering company, Khato Civils has successfully handed over a fully commissioned 100 kilometre bulk water pipeline in Botswana demonstrating that black Africans can take care of the continent’s infrastructure development if trusted.
The Masama Pipeline project is now supplying 64 million litres of water per day, construction costed P800 million (about K58 billion), which is within budgeted costs and ahead of time.
Speaking on the Botswana experience, Khato Civils executive chairman, Simbi Phiri, said amidst negative opinion and conjectures they had managed to deliver the project in time.
“They were long periods of delays but a very short period of time. [As Khato Civils] we are organised. We can organise technically and financially because we know how to use the money and resources prudently,” Phiri said.
He said African leaders on the continent need to believe in their own, and give fellow Africans opportunities to perform.
“We executed the Botswana project as Africans. There is always this thinking that an African cannot organise anything technical. The Gaborone project is a testimony. Africans are capable. The only thing an African wants is an opportunity,” he said.
Malawi has a similar project – the Lilongwe Salima water supply project which, if done, is expected to provide water to the city of Lilongwe via a 120-kilometre pipeline from Lake Malawi at a cost of $400 million (about K327 billion at the current exchange rate).
During the erstwhile Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the Parliamentary Committee of Natural Resources suspects that some government ministries and agencies are playing hide-and-seek on the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.
Apart from Ministry of Forestry and LWB hesitancy, the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project has also faced resistance from the World Bank.
The World Bank (WB) warned the government against proceeding with the Lilongwe-Salima Water Project, citing severe economic downsides to the country.
In a leaked letter from WB Country Manager for Malawi, Eastern and Southern Africa region, Hugh Riddell, to the Ministry of Finance and copied to several ministries and government departments, the Bank expressed serious reservations.
“I would like to confirm that a global World Bank team has been remobilised to work closely with the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and the Department of Water Resources to prepare [for] the project. As you are aware, the Diamphwe Dam and associated infrastructure is the most prominent investment under the project, in addition to a proposed comprehensive livelihood development programme.
“We share your concerns over the urgency to address the water supply bottlenecks for Lilongwe City, which is the basis for our engagement in the Lilongwe Water Programme developed by the LWB.”
According to the letter, the programme includes a series of sequenced investments on the network, bulk water and institutional strengthening to enhance LWB’s service delivery capacity.
The programme prioritises the raising of Kamuzu Dam 1 and construction of a new dam on Diamphwe River, in addition to network upgrades to improve efficiency and reduce losses.
The letter further states that, in accordance with prioritisation of investments listed in the Lilongwe Water Programme, the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project is not the most cost-effective way to increase water supply to Lilongwe at this time.
“Moreover, it would not [sic] be feasible nor optimal for Malawi to invest in both sources (Diamphwe and Lake Malawi) in parallel, as it would result in excess water put [ting] an extra burden on the financial systems of both the LWB and the Treasury, and risk non-compliance to the legal covenants under the existing projects that require LWB total revenues to be equivalent to not less than the sum of its total operating expenses; and debt service requirements.
“Given that Malawi is at high overall risk of public debt distress, avoiding the accumulation of non-concessional external debt or guarantees is critical to avoid worsening debt sustainability,” states the letter.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :