afrol News, 15 February - The Lesotho government has announced that the major Metolong Dam is now ready to be constructed, with works starting in May. The dam is mostly to provide urban households with water.
Lesotho's Finance Minister Timothy Thahane revealed that the project was ready to be kicked off during a financial speech at the Maseru parliament yesterday. Works on the long planned Metolong Dam would start in May, he announced.
Mountainous and drought-ridden Lesotho already has several major dam constructions in rural areas, mostly producing electricity and providing water for the South African market. The Metolong Dam will mostly serve consumers in the capital, Maseru, and nearby lowland areas in the kingdom.
Critical voices hold that poverty is toughest and water resources are most needed in rural Lesotho, where chronic lack of water and water infrastructure causes harvests to fail periodically.
But for Lesotho's growing urban population, the Metolong Dam is good news, as it spells major investments in infrastructure, more regular access to clean water for consumers, more water for Lesotho's growing industrial sector and eases the growth of an expanding Maseru.
Minister Thahane however emphasised that also many rural households in the Basotho lowlands, close to Maseru, would benefit from the dam, getting access to portable water.
A large list of development partners have aided Lesotho in securing funds to develop the dam project. According to Minister Thahane, government will spend maluti 160 million (euro 16 million) on the project, while its development partners have provided maluti 70 million (euro 7 million) in grants and 480 million (euro 48 million) in soft loans.
The main foreign sponsors behind the Metolong Dam include South Africa, the US, the EU, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the World Bank and OPEC.
Announcing the upcoming construction of the Metolong Dam, Minister Thahane also emphasised on the need to invest more in other infrastructure projects, in particular electricity. Both Maseru and the few electrified rural areas suffer from frequent power outages, strongly affecting economic development and quality of life in Lesotho.
According to the Finance Minister, some maluti 370 million were allocated towards increased power generation in the country. "Negotiations with the private sector to generate more power from string winds in the mountains of Lesotho and from the sunshine" were continuing, he said.
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