Botswana is pursuing one of the world’s most ambitious drought alleviation schemes: the Chobe Zambezi water transfer project.
Botswana’s Water Utilities Corporation wants to transport 495 million cubic metres a year of water from the Chobe-Zambezi river through some 1,250km of pipelines to its arid south.
It’s hoping to implement the scheme as a public-private partnership, using a design-build-finance-operate-transfer model.
The corporation will hold a market testing Zoom meeting on Wednesday to inform potential bidders.
The aim is to appoint a concessionaire by the end of next year and achieve financial close in 2025. The system is expected to be complete in 2027.
Pipes will run from the town of Kazungula near the Zambian border, with two spur lines to the north-central regions of Maun and Boteti.
The project is considered essential if Botswana is to end its chronic droughts.
In 2015, an El Niño drought began that led to water rationing and exhausted ground water supplies in some areas. The country’s water stress is expected to grow as global warming increases.
The African Development Bank backs the scheme, hoping it will boost the country’s food and food processing sectors.
Now Botswana relies heavily on food imports owing to a lack of arable land.