Umgeni Water gets €35m European loan

6 December 2011

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to provide €35-million (R385-million) in long-term funding to South African water board Umgeni Water, enabling it to continue providing clean water to about five-million people in Durban and surrounding areas, as well as to provide new water connections to unserved areas.

The projects are part of Umgeni Water’s capital expenditure infrastructure programme, and will also involve the installation of new bulk water pipelines and expansion of water treatment plants, pumping stations and service reservoirs.

The initiative will involve upgrading water supply networks and treatment facilities to enable increased provision of water.

“The Umgeni Water projects will assure and improve access to water for over a million households across KwaZulu-Natal,” EIB vice-president Plutarchos Sakellaris said in a statement this week.

“At a time when the world’s leaders are gathering in Durban to address the challenges posed by a changing climate, acknowledging the importance of ensuring the availability of clean water in dry regions is essential.”

First loan to a water board

The granting of the loan to Umgeni Water is historic, as it is the first loan to be made to a South African water board by the EIB.

“The European Investment Bank has an in-depth understanding of the pressing service delivery needs of our country and the importance of ensuring water supply in the region,” said Umgeni Water GM Nica Gevers. “We are delighted that the negotiations have been successfully concluded, which will now enable us to move ahead with the projects with vigour.”

The loan will complement the financial support provided to the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority and funding for the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (Greater Durban) for the construction of the Spring Grove Dam and the replacement of water mains and installation of new pipelines in the eThekwini region.

Investment in African water projects

The EIB is working with key partners across South Africa to enable increased investment across the country’s entire water system and contributed towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in the country.

Previous South African water projects funded by the European Investment Bank include the Berg Water dam supplying Cape Town, Vaal Dam reservoir and pipeline supplying Johannesburg and the South African component of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Since 2000, the EIB has provided over €531-million of funding for water projects across in Africa. In southern Africa this has included projects in Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Swaziland, Botswana and South Africa.

SAinfo reporter

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