Botswana’s central position in the region could leverage it to be the manufacturer and supplier of water pipes for the regional market.
This is thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is making it too prohibitive for contractors to continue importing such materials from overseas in countries like Italy, China, or Brazil.
Water infrastructure expert and contractor, Khato Civils, have hinted they could set up a manufacturing plant in Botswana from which they would deliver water pipes to their multi-billion pula pipeline project in Malawi.
The pipeline project is expected to start anytime thanks to the huge confidence the company enjoys with the new administration of President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi.
The cost of water pipes procurement is expected to constitute a huge chunk of the overall project cost.
However for Botswana, the mooted pipe manufacturing project has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and contribute to the tax revenue base at a time when sources of revenue streams have become a hot potato for governments in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With presence in countries like South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola and DRC, a Khato Civils’ Botswana pipe manufacturing plant has the potential to be a key regional player in water pipes supplies in the region, in the COVID-19 era, and possibly beyond, as it provides a cost-effective alternative.
In an interview with a Malawian television station, ZODIAC TV, Khato Civils executive chairman, Simbi Phiri revealed that the benefits of supplying the pipes from Botswana would be huge for the Malawi government. He said it would cut the costs of importing and transporting from overseas by over US$100 million (about P1.5 billion).
Another factor associated with lowering the costs of the pipes is the proposed increase in diameter and length, which reduces the costs of labour, while the choice of coated steel over ductile pipes, reduces life span from 100 years to 65 years, also significantly reduces the costs.
In the interview, Phiri explained that transporting the pipes across the Zambezi bridge to Malawi through Lusaka would drastically reduce the original costs of the project. Khato Civils were able to manufacture these types of pipes at their Vereneging Plant in Johannesburg for the Masama 100km pipeline project.
Khato Civils will be hoping to launch their water pipe manufacturing plant to the rest of the sub-continent from the advantage of a centrally positioned base like Botswana.
Equally, the picture on the ground indicates that even in Botswana, a water pipes manufacturing plant could benefit from such immediate projects as the Lobatse Master Plan, Gaborone-Lobatse pipeline project, Goodhope-Sekhutlane pipeline project, the Gamononyane-Thebephatshwa pipeline project and North-South Water Carrier 2.2 pipeline project, which were recently opened for tenders.