New desalination plant for Namibia

Govt, private sector partner up

08 June 2021 | Infrastructure

Govt partners with private sector to save money

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OTIS DANIELS

SWAKOPMUND

“Another desalination plant for Namibia is no longer merely a potential, but a reality as government will build such a facility,” agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein said on the outskirts of Swakopmund on Saturday.

Schlettwein was officiating the ground-breaking of the Kuiseb Collector 2 pipeline between Schwartzekuppe and Swakopmund.

He said government has taken a principled decision to build a new desalination plant in addition to the one already in existence.

“A feasibility study for the construction of a new desalination plant has been completed and shows that an additional desalination plant is viable and needed. A site has already been identified for this large project that needs resourcing. We believe that through a public-private partnership, private sector capital can be leveraged to fund the construction process while keeping NamWater the owner of the source, which is the water that will be produced.”

Challenges

Schlettwein said there are two problems that go hand-in-hand with the construction of a desalination plant: Firstly, that it requires a lot of energy to desalinate water, and secondly, since the ocean is at the lowest point of the country, a lot of power is needed to pump water inland, which comes at considerable cost.

The minister, who paid a visit to the site located between Swakopmund and Henties Bay on Saturday, said the move is aimed at resolving water production constraints in the region and the central areas of the country.

“We are running into a situation where resources we tapped into to satisfy the water need are becoming limited. This requires from NamWater to go further and further away from Windhoek to tap into additional resources. We compared the cost for development in Windhoek to that of, for instance, the coast. A good argument to be made is that many industries can be settled at the coast where there is a limitless water resource that can be desalinated," he said.

Coastal move

Schlettwein pointed out that such a move will mean a shift of development to the coast.

He said transforming Walvis Bay and Swakopmund into the logistic hubs of not only Namibia but of the SADC hinterland brings about a need for a desalination plant at the coast. This will "ensure that Namibia is ahead of the curve, enabling limitless provision of water for potential investors who do not react on promises but on factual situations".

Located 35km north of Swakopmund, the existing desalination plant is the largest reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in southern Africa.

Originally built by Orano (then Areva Resources Namibia) to supply water to its Trekkopje Mine near Arandis, the plant has become an important contributor to the overall supply of the potable water delivery system managed by NamWater.

This plant currently supplies NamWater with 12 million cubic meters of water a year.

The water is mostly sold to mines and industries located outside the coastal towns.