BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Zimbabwe requires at least US$34 billion to revamp its infrastructure over the next decade, a new report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) has shown.
With recurrent expenditure taking an upwards of 90% of government revenues, the southern African nation has not made any meaningful investment towards public infrastructure, which is in a state of decay.
According to the Zimbabwe Infrastructure Report 2019 released yesterday, the amount, which is based on 2017 prices, covers the undertaking of energy,
sanitation, transport, and information and communication technology projects by 2030.
“The proposed action programme for infrastructure for the decade ahead is comprehensive and ambitious. Its aim is to rehabilitate and upgrade the bulk of the
basic infrastructure assets of the country in the coming decade and reinforce the existing integration of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure network with other
countries of the southern Africa,” the report reads.
Water supply, sanitation and resource management would require an outlay of US$3,67 billion for capital works and related technical support.
A further US$1,14 billion would be needed to upgrade the country’s power generation capacity, while another US$28,5 billion will be required for transport
facilities and road construction.
The communication sector needs US$412 million primarily for the creation of a national fibre optic backbone network.
AfDB said successful implementation of the proposed programme would bring a range of benefits to Zimbabwe that includes improved transport modality and lower
costs for cargo movement.
The regional bank proposed funding arrangements that will see State enterprises providing US$1,5 billion, private sector (US$7,9 billion), national government
and local authorities (US$20,7 billion) and donors (US$3,7 billion).
AfDB said assuming that Zimbabwe clears its arrears in the near future and full donor support is restored, the proposed infrastructure programme would require
that a majority of the donor funds be allocated to water and roads.
“Long delays in restructuring the State-owned enterprises that are potential partners with private investors in private partnership arrangements will simply
delay efforts to upgrade and increase capacities in key infrastructure areas such as power generation, railway services, airport capacities and services at
tourist destinations in Zimbabwe,” the continental bank said.
According to Treasury data, over the last 17 years, government has only spent a paltry US$180 million towards the maintenance and development of public
infrastructure, but Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is upbeat that an unpopular 2% tax introduced last October will shore up government coffers to allow for
meaningful investment towards infrastructure.
For 2018, government had a US$748 million budget for capital projects.
The figure, according to Ncube, is set to increase to US$1,1 billion in 2019, while another US$1,5 billion will be mobilised off budget.
Development partners are expected to contribute US$99,4 million of the off budget financing, which will be mostly targeted at energy, water, transport and
irrigation, while statutory and public entities own resources will contribute US$390 million.