By Hilary Mare
WITH the backdrop of persistent drought conditions and continuing expansion of economic activities in the western and central regions of the country, the Harambee Prosperity Plan has mandated the development of a 25 million m3 per annum capacity desalination plant at the west coast of Namibia on a PPP basis, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein has revealed.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is presently leading an initiative to undertake a comprehensive feasibility assessment for the proposed desalination project for potential development through private investment.
“We believe that there are sound reasons to target the development of the desalination project on a PPP basis. Development of a water desalination project shall be a sizable investment, where the suitability of design and quality of build shall play an important role in the long term efficiency of water production from the plant. In this scenario, it will be useful to have a project arrangement where the design, construction and operations risks are allocated to a competent private firm, and Namwater or alternative consuming entity shall have a water purchase relationship with the desalination facility,” further stated.
Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa and its water resources are subject to extremely variable rainfall and high evaporation losses. The fresh water sources are still unevenly spread and only to be found at the perennial rivers on the northern – the Kunene in the northwest, the Kavango, Zambezi, and Kwando in the northeast – and southern – Orange River – borders.
Almost one third of Namibia’s water supply is still harvested from these permanent waterways. Acute water shortage exists particularly in the central and coastal regions, which despite being relatively small in size constitute major economic and population growth centres. Underground water aquifers exist in the northern and north-central regions of the country.
In addition to this the Minister also revealed that the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Nampower proposed to develop a Concentrated Solar Power (or CSP) project with substantial investment from the private sector.
“This is a compelling development choice for us, given that Namibia is endowed with some of the best solar resource sites in the world, and a CSP project along with thermal storage – as is planned – shall provide a high degree of dispatch flexibility, which is needed to manage the peak demand and supplies from non-firm sources of power.
“Substantial preparation work has been completed for the CSP project. A detailed project feasibility assessment has been undertaken, and a number of important preparatory works like land acquisition and agreements around provision of bulk infrastructure are at an advanced stage.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy has now taken a lead to formulate a multi-disciplinary working group to further the project preparation work, including finalisation of the project structure and risk allocation framework. The PPP team of the Ministry of Finance actively contributes to this working group. As per present plans, the tender process for selection of private partner is likely to commence in the first half of 2017, and tender award is expected for the last quarter of 2017,” he said.
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