Zimbabwe gets $110 mn water, power upgrades grant

Zambian children witness the opening of the spill gates at Kariba Dam on the Zambian-Zimbabwean border on February 12, 2008 (AFP Photo/Collins Phiri)

Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe has received a $110 million grant from the African Development Bank to repair and upgrade ageing infrastructure including water and power supply facilities, the finance minister said Wednesday.

"This support comes at an opportune time when the country is witnessing a high level of company closures in the past few years," Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told reporters in the capital.

He said projects to be funded by the grant include upgrading power generation, rehabilitating water and sanitation services and repairing the Kariba Dam wall on the border with Zambia.

"The rehabilitation of the dam wall is a welcome development as it gives precious water and power to the region," Chinamasa said.

Zimbabwe, led by President Robert Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980, has been seeking to climb back on its feet after a decade-long downturn which saw runaway annual inflation peaking at 231 million percent.

Service delivery standards have plummeted and poor sanitation led Zimbabwe to experience a cholera outbreak in 2008 which claimed around 4,000 lives.

The government and local authorities are failing to provide basic services like water and power supplies with cities and towns often going for weeks or months without running water.

The state power utility often resorts to load shedding, cutting supplies to parts of cities for up to 10 hours as it seeks to conserve scarce power.

In October, Zimbabwe signed a 1.5 billion deal with China's Sinohydro for a project to boost power generation at the coal-powered Hwange station.