Lake Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Zimbabwe

Home » Projects » Lake Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Zimbabwe

The Lake Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which will provide water to several places in Matabeleland, including Bulawayo, is currently 70% complete. The 650 million cubic meter dam is projected to cost approximately US$121,7 million for construction in total.

Read also: Pemba Dam in Kinango, Kenya, operational after 5 years of reconstruction

The project is almost complete, according to Marjorie Munyonga, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa). He said that they are working within the mandates they were given from the start, even though there is no set deadline at this point.

Richard Moyo, Matabeleland North’s Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, stated that the dam is almost done and will be ready to hold water by June.

The dam, which is part of the National Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project’s (NMZWP) first phase, would be capable of irrigating up to 10,000 hectares of land as well as promoting fish farming.

Building a 251-kilometer pipeline that will carry water from the dam to Bulawayo is the second phase of the NMZWP. The 122-kilometer pipeline will be constructed from the Zambezi River to connect the Gwayi-Shangani Pipeline in the third and last phase of the project.

Project Overview

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is situated approximately 6 km downstream of the confluence of the Gwayi River and Shangani River. The project for the construction of the dam also includes associated electricity transmission infrastructure and a treatment facility with the capacity to produce 220 Mega Litres per day.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP). To be precise the project is the first phase and the core of NMZWP that is projected to offer a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and the Matabeleland area once completed.

The project will also feature a 10MW hydropower station and associated electricity transmission infrastructure.

Reported earlier

July 2014

Construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam, Zimbabwe for US$52m

China Sunlight Africa will provide the Zimbabwean government with US$52m to be used in the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland.

According to Charles Mugari, the Deputy General Manager of China Africa Sunlight Energy, US$104 will be used for constructing a power grid to be connected to the national grid, and US$1bn will be for constructing a power plant.

The company has also been awarded an Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate (EIA) by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to construct the power station at Gwayi.

The Minister for Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe noted that the construction of a power station will help curb power deficits in the country.

At the moment, the power output from traditional power plants is 1,500MW, yet the end-users need up to 2,000MW daily. Zimbabwe is capable of producing this amount given that it has thermal, hydro, solar, and methane gas resources.

At the moment, there are five hydro projects underway: Gaerezi, Ruti, Nyamhingura, Chipendeke, and Pungwe, and are all expected to be completed by 2015.

Construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam will help provide water to the 300MW power station under construction by China Sunlight Africa at the coal-mining Gwayi.

The power plant is expected to be completed by 2016.

September 2014

CASE pledges U.S$10m for dam construction in Zimbabwe


A Chinese company – China Africa Sunlight Energy Limited (CASE) – has given $10m towards the construction of the long waited for Gwayi-Shangani dam as the company was awarded mining rights for Zimbabwean coal mining.

As a joint venture between local vehicle company, Old Stone Investments, and Shandong Taishan Sunlight, the company has experience in construction undertakings. The company will start the coal mining project by 2015.

China Africa Sunlight Energy Limited’s general manager, Retired Colonel Charles, has said that their company has the financial capability to undertake the project within the time frame set for the mining project.

According to him, CASE has also set aside $2.1bn for the development of an underground coal mine and the building of a 2,100-megawatt plant by 2016.

CASE is expected to start mining operations in Zimbabwe, in November this year. The company is targeting to produce three million tonnes of thermal coal, one million tonnes of washed coal, and 500 000 metric tonnes of cocking coal per year.

July 2017

Zimbabwe avails US$5m for Gwayi Shangani Dam Project

The Chinese contractor in charge of the construction of the Gwayi Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North Province resumed work earlier this week after Treasury availed $5m towards the project.

This is following the suspension of work by the contractor four years back due to a lack of funding.

Zinwa public relations manager Mrs. Marjory Munyonga said the China Water and Electric Corporation was back on site and already crushing stones for concrete works.
Mrs. Munyonga said more resources will be availed as the project picks.

Gwayi-Shangani, which will be Zimbabwe’s third-largest water reservoir after Tokwe-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi, is a major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, considered the long-term solution to Bulawayo’s water challenges.

With a holding capacity of 635m cubic meters of water, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam will be the largest water body in Matabeleland North Province. Upon completion, the dam, which is on the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, is projected to bring about a lot of socio-economic transformation for surrounding communities and other parts of the drought-prone Matabeleland North Province.

The dam will also have the capacity to generate six megawatts of electricity. The resumption of work at the dam and its subsequent completion are among the key benchmarks the Government set for the Infrastructure and Utility Cluster under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

Approximately $90m is required to complete the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which is also expected to promote agricultural enterprises. President Mugabe recently commissioned Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body, Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi south, which is already 70% full and has a capacity of 1,8 Bn cubic meters.

Tokwe-Mukosi, located in the drought-prone southern Masvingo, was financed by Government at a cost of $260m.

October 2017

US $120m Gwayi-Shangani Dam to be completed in 2019

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam, one of the national projects under Zim-Asset will reach completion in the next two years. The Managing Director of China International Water and Electric Corporation Mr. E Shangfa said they expect to start construction of the dam wall early next year.

Financial challenges

He also pointed out financial challenges as the reason for the delay as they started work 4 years after setting up. He further added that most of the work will be done next year. Mr Shangfa promised to give monthly progress reports on the project. He said their major setback was the unavailability of foreign currency to import parts for equipment.

This year alone, Mr. Shangfa said, they required between US $8m and US $12m to import equipment. Additionally, the same amount was to pay the project designer, Yellow River Consultancy of China.

Zimbabwean Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko expressed his sentiments with regard to the dam’s worth to the development of the region. He also said that as a national project, the President is closely following the development. VP Mphoko also took note of the challenges the company was facing and promised to look at them in order to ensure the work is completed in time.

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam will be the largest water body in Matabeleland North province with a holding capacity of 635 million cubic meters of water. On completion, the dam will bring about socio-economic transformation for surrounding communities. The dam, which is on the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, will also have the capacity to generate six megawatts of electricity.

March 2021

Zimbabwe to build a pipeline to draw water from the Gwayi-Shangani dam

The government of Zimbabwe has launched the construction of a pipeline expected to draw raw water from the Gwayi-Shangani dam to the city of Bulawayo. The project which was launched by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa aims to pump raw water from the Gwayi-Shangani dam to supply Bulawayo and surrounding communities in the arid Matabeleland region.

Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP)

The development is also part of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) whose overall objective is to end the permanent water shortage in this arid province. The project is being implemented in several phases. In the first phase, the authorities want to deliver the Gwayi-Shangani dam. The dam is being built on the Zambezi River in the Hwange and has been entrusted to China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE), a subsidiary of the giant China Three Gorges Corporation (CTE).

The Chinese company was supposed to commission the reservoir in 2021. However, work has been delayed due to travel restrictions imposed by the authorities at the height of the Covid-19 health crisis.

CWE is constructing a roller-compacted concrete gravity dam 70m high and 305m wide. The facility, located approximately 6km downstream of the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani Rivers (a tributary of the Zambezi River), will be capable of storing 634 million m3 of water. With the lifting of sanitary restrictions, CWE plans to commission the reservoir in 2022.

Phase two of the project involves the construction of an intake in the new dam. The raw water will follow the new pipes, the laying of which was recently launched by the Zimbabwean authorities. The pipelines will bring water to Bulawayo. The government upon the project completion plans to treat this water for households and send some of the raw water to feed irrigation systems in the arid Matabeleland region.

Jan 2022

Gwayi Shangani Dam project relocations hit a snag

The planned transfer of over 2 000 Lubimbi people in the Binga district to make room for the Gwayi Shangani Dam has put the villagers in limbo, with reports that the government had not funded the move. Nakano has been designated as the preferred relocation option by the affected communities. Between the Shangani River and the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo Highway is the land.

Residents were urged to suspend farming operations while their region was being prepped for dam building. According to some villagers, the government has dispatched evaluation teams to where they plan to relocate. By November of last year, this judgment had been made. The community was then instructed to choose a preferred relocation site, which they did. They are now waiting for official confirmation.

Gwayi Shangani Dam and Relocation Issues

The relocation process has been accelerated. There has been no mention of a specific day or period. During the agricultural season, villagers were warned not to till their property. Villagers are dissatisfied that the national budget for 2022 does not contain compensation for those who would be evicted from their ancestral lands.

Some stated that they had hoped that the national budget would allocate funding for compensation to the communities who would be relocated, but that this had not happened. They said that they anticipate the government confirming the site where roads and other infrastructure buildings, such as schools, dip tanks, and clinics, would begin in earnest.

Villagers were first advised to leave the area by the end of last month, according to Lubimbi councilor Chrispen Mnkuli. Mnkuli stated that they had contacted the government on the problem and had chosen a preferable relocation site, but the government’s attitude was unclear.

Land Kabome was recently selected as Binga’s district development coordinator. The government recently assessed the value of properties likely to be damaged by the development of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Lubimbi to compensate the victims. The construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been marred by controversy since individuals who would be relocated were not consulted on the matter.

Jan 2022

Government Makes Efforts to Expedite Lake Gwayi-Shangani Project

Contractors have begun clearing access roads and obtaining pipeline servitude permission for the 245km pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo, a part of the ongoing Lake Gwayi-Shangani project, as the government ramps up efforts to guarantee that water is pumped to the city by the end of the year.

In January, the government boosted the number of contractors from six to eleven to expedite the completion of the large project, demonstrating that the Second Republic is serious about completing outstanding projects. Each of the 11 contractors has 21 kilometers to complete, and the civil works have produced jobs for residents.

The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is one of the government’s top objectives, and it is scheduled to be finished this year after missing the deadline last year. The government took up the project in 2012, and the Second Republic has dedicated significant resources to it and others in accordance with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) ambitions for Vision 2030.

Works on the Gwayi-Shangani Pipelines Project

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), the government’s implementing arm, is collaborating with engineers from China International Water and Electric Corp to build the dam, which will have a capacity of 650 million cubic meters. This is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which aims to deliver water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo in order to alleviate the city’s water concerns permanently.

The pipeline project and Lake Gwayi-Shangani are significant components of the NMZWP, which was initially proposed in 1912 but failed to gain traction under prior governments. It was only after the establishment of the Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa, that the project got major budgetary backing and political will, allowing it to move faster.

President Mnangagwa told the people on Independence Day at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo that the long-awaited Lake Gwayi-Shangani project, which was initially conceived 100 years ago, will be finished this year. The dam would definitively alleviate the City of Bulawayo’s recurring water difficulties and result in a thriving agriculture industry in Matabeleland North to fulfill the demands of the province and catapult export-led production, leveraging the Victoria Falls and Hwange airports.

Last month, the President visited the Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction site and expressed pleasure with the progress achieved on the massive water project. Following the trip, he expressed confidence that by December, Bulawayo will be taking water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani following established timetables.

Progress made so far and expected benefits of the dam

The dam wall on the riverbank is presently 19.35 meters high, with overall progress exceeding 61%. Mrs. Marjorie Munyonga, Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, stated that current operations under the Lake Gwayi-Shangani project involve laying concrete on the dam wall, with personnel on-site working around the clock.

Mrs. Munyonga stated that eight of the 11 contractors working on the pipeline are already hired. She stated that the remaining ones would soon be relocated to their designated locations. Mamoford Engineers, Masimba Holdings Limited, Fossil Contracting, Conduit Investments, ESOR Construction, Grindale Engineering, Redan-Orca-Sesani, Great Dyke Earthmoving, Mark Bokano JV, Karna Consortium, Technoexpert, and Latmak Supply Chain are among the 11 subcontractors.

There will be more than 10,000 hectares of irrigated land, with at least 200 hectares for each pumping station, which will be co-managed by Arda to benefit the community, contributing to rural development and facilitating the achievement of Vision 2030. Fisheries initiatives will also be launched along the route to help local people.

According to the dam-building plan, a 10MW hydroelectric power plant would be erected on the dam site, benefiting schools and towns nearby. The dam wall will be 72 meters tall. Lake Gwayi-Shangani will be the country’s third-largest inland water body, behind Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi, both in Masvingo.

June 2022

Lake Gwayi-Shangani Power Station Designs to be Finalized this Month

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is reportedly 66.2 percent complete. The proposed 10MW Lake Gwayi-Shangani hydropower station project designs that are being carried out by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the Zimbabwe Energy Supply Authority (ZESA) are due to be completed in June 2022. Work is underway to have it gazetted as a lake.

The sudden surge of construction work of Gwayi-Shangani Dam is part of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa’s desire to accomplish the century-old dream to completely solve Bulawayo’s perennial water troubles as well as transform lives in the Matabeleland region.

Jan 2023

Lake Gwayi-Shangani to be ready in time for the summer cropping season of 2023–24

Dr. Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, recently visited the Lake Gwayi-Shangani site in Hwange District, Matabeleland North Province.

Although the project has missed many deadlines, the minister promised that it would be ready in time for the summer cropping season of 2023–24. The 650 million cubic meter lake could be one of the most significant projects undertaken by President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic.

This project will provide Bulawayo with reliable water supplies for the coming 80 years. The work being done today will benefit generations 80 years from now. President Mnangagwa said that their economic policy would be built on agriculture, which is the basis, and on establishing conditions for an investment-led economic revival that puts emphasis on job creation.

To address high levels of unemployment while transforming the country’s economy to the tertiary sector, he added that key decisions will be made. The president has kept his promises in order to realize Vision 2030. The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is just one of many promises that have come true.