Zim needs $2bln annually to cover infrastructure gap



VICTORIA FALLS – Zimbabwe, which has a huge infrastructure backlog, requires about $2 billion annually in the next decade to improve its infrastructure in water and sanitation, energy, information communications and technology and transport, it has emerged.

This emerged at the at the on-going Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (CIFOZ) annual congress in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

“According to official reports, government has spent about $2 billion in the last 10 years on infrastructure,” president of CIFOZ, Harold Chinogurei said.

“But, if we are to close the infrastructure gap in this country, this is the figure ($2 billion) we need to spend annually. I know the (construction) industry has the tendency to blame government, but, government also has the right to blame the industry. So, the big question to us (as the construction industry) is what we have done about it?” he asked.

The Zimbabwe government has been spending more than 90 percent of revenue collected annually towards wages and salaries of its bloated 350 000 strong workforce, leaving very little for infrastructure development.

This has resulted in increasingly dilapidated roads and rail network, which is still plagued by derailments and breakdowns, leaving heavy goods being transported by other more expensive means. The poor information communications and technology and energy infrastructure have resulted in investors shunning Zimbabwe.

Power is Zimbabwe’s biggest weak point and the country, which is generating about 1 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity against a peak demand of about 1 800MW, is grappling with a huge supply deficit due to poor local electricity generation capacity.

The country’s integrated power generation and distribution company, ZESA Holding, has been forced to import electricity from regional suppliers, especially from Eskom of South Africa on a non-firm basis contract, meaning the South African power utility can  only supply Zimbabwe when it has surplus electricity and Hydro Cahorra Bassa of Mozambique on firm basis to cover supply shortfalls.

Zimbabwe’s poor infrastructure, expert said is a major impediment to development. Urgent interventions are now critical to spur economic progress and reduce poverty.

Many roads in Zimbabwe are beyond their lifespan. In fact, more than 80 percent of the country’s road network is in a dilapidated state, according to a recent report by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development on the state of the country’s road network.

The sluggish investment into infrastructure development has coincided with a sharp deceleration in economic growth in Zimbabwe in the past decade.