PPP mooted for Neckartal irrigation scheme

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein said the project was planned to be implemented in two phases – the actual construction of the dam and the development of the irrigation project around the dam.

12 November 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

The Neckartal Dam irrigation project is currently being screened for public-private partnership (PPP) suitability and once all processes have been finalised, it is anticipated that the project will be put into production during the 2022/2023 financial year.

Thus far, of the 5 000 hectares that are targeted for agricultural production at the irrigation scheme, 3 800 hectares have been acquired, with efforts under way to secure the remaining 1 200.

This is according to agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, who provided an update on the progress made so far.

He explained that the Neckartal Dam project was planned to be implemented in two phases, namely the actual construction of the dam (Phase 1) and the development of the irrigation project around the dam (Phase 2).

According to him, activities for the implementation of Phase 2 have started and the ministry, in partnership with the Public Private Partnership Unit (PPP Unit) at the finance ministry, have initiated the process to operationalise the Neckartal Dam irrigation project.

Changed plans

He said the process commenced with the ministry registering the project with the PPP Unit and by providing a dossier of all the relevant documents pertaining the project, such as feasibility studies, environmental impact assessment, detailed design and cost estimates, scoping report and specialised studies.

The unit is currently screening the project for suitability, after which other activities and processes will follow.

According to Schlettwein, the government originally planned to develop Phase 2 with its own resources.

“However, due to the recent global and national economic headwinds, which negatively affected government’s fiscal position, this is no longer possible. It is for this reason that government decided to implement Phase 2 through the PPP Unit.”

He added that the development of Phase 2 is being done with the framework of the Green Scheme Policy and its objectives.

Background

Schlettwein said Phase 2 started with the feasibility of the irrigation scheme component, which was completed in 2010.

The feasibility study focused on soil investigation, crop selection, farm sizing study, irrigation farm layout, irrigation systems, site drainage and ancillary services.

The main outcome of the study was the identification of the 5 000 hectares for irrigation development.

The envisaged crops identified for production include dates, grapes, grains, horticulture and lucerne.

According to Schlettwein, an investigation to establish the size of an economical farming unit was also done and the recommended farm size is 50- and 100-hectare units, depending on the type of crops to be produced.

After the feasibility study, the ministry started with the development of Phase 1, which entailed the construction of the dam, which has a holding capacity of 857 million cubic metres of water.

This makes Neckartal Dam the largest dam in Namibia, followed by Hardap with a capacity of 320 million cubic metres.

The tendered price for Phase 1 came in at N$3.8 billion, however the actual cost amounted to over N$5.7 billion.

Schlettwein said Phase 1 included the construction of the dam itself, as well as a 60-megawatt hydropower plant and the bulk irrigation water supply system from the dam to an elevated storage facility about 20 km downstream, which was completed in November 2019.

The dam was inaugurated in March 2020.

[email protected]

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