The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE will this year make a giant leap in its quest to modernise, industrialise, create jobs and establish a prosperous society, as several transformative projects will be completed and commissioned, it has been learnt.
The big-ticket infrastructure projects that will be wrapped up include Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which will permanently end Bulawayo’s water woes and create a greenbelt in surrounding communities; the Harare-Beitbridge highway; Hwange units 7 and 8, which will add 600MW to the grid; the Beitbridge Border Post modernisation project; and the expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Several multi-billion-dollar initiatives by the private sector such as the US$1 billion steel plant in Manhize and new lithium projects — Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe, Sabi Star Mine and Zulu Lithium — are also expected to begin production.
Overall, this will create more jobs and earn the country additional foreign currency.
Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earnings have been rising exponentially over the past couple of years.
They grew to a record US$9,7 billion in 2021.
Government expects receipts to rise to US$12 billion in 2022.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes Dr Joram Gumbo said 2023 would be a major stepping stone towards Vision 2030.
“This year will see completion of several infrastructure projects that anchor our Vision 2030 programme. So, in many ways, projects that will be completed will give impetus to our vision. The massive infrastructure development programmes underway countrywide, including the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads, construction of dams and installation of additional power units contribute to tangible socio-economic transformation and realisation of Vision 2030,” he said.
Once completed, he said, the projects will boost the economy and improve livelihoods.
“Benefits of such projects include reducing electricity imports, being a regional transport hub and scaling up mining activities. This cascades down to ordinary people through easy transportation of goods, especially farm produce, creation of jobs and more revenue for Government to spend on other initiatives such as devolution and social protection.”
The mining sector is projected to grow to US$12 billion this year, driven mainly by greenfield projects, particularly in lithium.
On Friday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Mr Winston Chitando said new lithium projects and the steel plant will contribute over US$5 billion to the sector.
“Projects which were underway and will be commissioned next year (this year) include the Arcadia Lithium Mine project, which will be commissioned in the first two months of 2023; Sabi Star Lithium Mine, which will be commissioned around June 2023; and the Bikita lithium expansion, which will be commissioned around August. We also have the Manhize steel project. These four projects on their own impact on our target (and) will be a minimum of US$5,5 billion,” he said.
Under initial plans to grow mining to a US$12 billion sector, gold was envisaged to contribute US$4 billion, platinum US$3 billion, while lithium was expected to contribute US$500 million.
However, Government is now bullish about increased contributions from other mining sub-sectors, especially lithium, following new investments.
Chinese investors have sunk more than US$600 million to acquire Bikita Minerals (US$180 million), Arcadia Lithium (US$343 million), Sabi Star Mine (US$76 million) and Zulu Lithium (US$35 million).
A cumulative US$600 million has also been lined up to develop the projects.
The US$1,5 billion Hwange Power Station expansion project, which ranks as the biggest investment in local power production after independence, will be completed this year. Unit 7 — currently in the
process of being commissioned — will soon add 300MW to the grid.
Unit 8 will add another 300MW later.
According to the 2023 Zimbabwe Infrastructure Investment Programme, compiled by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, another US$472 million will be injected for refurbishment works on six old generators at Hwange.
The works will be financed using a facility from the Export-Import Bank of India.
Government considers the widening, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 580-kilometre Beitbridge-Harare highway critical in its overall objective of making Zimbabwe a regional transport hub.
To date, about 380km have been opened to traffic, while the remaining sections will be completed this year.
The Mbudzi interchange will similarly be commissioned this year.
Completion of the modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post would be another milestone, so would be the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The refreshed airport will be a game changer, as it will handle an additional six million passengers annually, up from the current capacity of 2,5 million.
Dam construction and irrigation
Lake Gwayi-Shangani ranks among the most consequential projects that will be commissioned this year by virtue of its sheer impact on Bulawayo and surrounding communities.
The idea to build the dam was first mooted in 1912 but failed to take off during previous administrations.
The Second Republic, however, has managed to bring the project to fruition.
In the 2023 Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube indicated that Chivhu Dam, which is 98 percent complete, will also be commissioned this year.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Monetary Policy Committee member Mr Persistence Gwanyanya said infrastructure projects that will be completed this year will create a strong foundation for economic growth and development.
“The advantage of establishing new infrastructure such as a highways or dams is we create economies around these projects.”
Harare-based economic expert Mr Prosper Chitambara also said infrastructure development enhances competitiveness and the well-being of ordinary citizens.
“Good infrastructure is one of the key determinants of competitiveness, so every investor would want to invest in a country with a good infrastructure network,” he said.
“This reduces the cost of doing business. The price to the end user will also come down, so this enhances the well-being of the consumer and overall competitiveness of the economy.”
There is need, he said, to continue roping in private players as well as the diaspora in developing the economy.
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