The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a win-win situation as it provides much needed water to South Africa and creates infrastructure development and energy generation in Lesotho, says South African President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony for phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, in Maseru, Lesotho, on 27 March 2014, President Zuma said both phases of the project, phase one and phase two, had vast benefits for both countries.
In operation for over 20 years, the The Lesotho Highlands Water Project supplies South Africa with approximately 780 million cubic meters of water per annum.
When fully operational, phase two of the project will substantially increase the volume of water supplied to South Africa.
Phase one of the project, which was funded by the World Bank, was completed in 2004.
It has provided Lesotho with a number of benefits, inlcuding that the country will obtain guaranteed royalties’s revenue.
“There has been benefits of infrastructure development during Phase I which has included 102km of paved roads, 265km of gravel roads, 1 133km of roads rehabilitated to grade 1 standard, 11 bridges built including 3 bridges between Lesotho and South Africa in Maseru, Maputsoe and Caledonspoort,” said President Zuma.
The benefits also include 299km of power lines, staff housing for an estimated 300 workers as well as Hydro electricity generation estimated at 72 megawatts.
The building of the Metolong Dam to which South Africa contributed R50 million, also meets the water needs of the Kingdom of Lesotho, he said, adding that Lesotho has also gained a village and an Information Centre at Metolong.
President Zuma said the benefits to South Africa were also immense.
“The country gains high quality water transfers and job opportunities. There is improved infrastructure in Clarens, Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Ladybrand in the form of new border crossings and improved amenities, community halls, clinics, houses and improved rail facilities such as in Ficksburg,” said President Zuma.
The purpose of the project is to provide Lesotho with a source of income in exchange for the provision of water to the central Gauteng province where the majority of industrial and mining activity occurs in South Africa, as well as to generate hydroelectric power for Lesotho.
The Agreement on phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project between the two countries was signed in August 2011 and South Africa ratified it in 2012 while Lesotho finalized its ratification process in 2013.
South African companies have a significant presence in Lesotho and are involved in various sectors such as housing, food and beverages, construction, retail, hotels and leisure, banking, and medical services.