USA to sign US$355 Millennium Challenge grant for Zambia next month

By Ben Kangwa (Press Secretary Zambia Embassy  Washington)

On May 10, 2012, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Zambian government are scheduled to sign the US$354.8 million  five year Compact.

It is expected that through the Compact, the Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage (LWSSD) project will provide Lusaka residents greater access to water and better water supply, sanitation and drainage services by extending and improving select water supply and sanitation and through an improved drainage networks, lower flooding.

Speaking when he met the MCC  Vice President – Department of Compact Operations Patrick Fine and Andrew Mayock, Deputy Vice President for Compact Operations for East and Southern Africa, Minister of Finance and national Planning Alexander Chikwanda thanked MCC and the United States government for this gesture.

He said, “The Compact will be the single largest investment in the water sector in Zambia since independence.

I also wish to thank the MCC for the technical and financial support that was rendered during the preparation of the Compact.”

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provided US$15 million to conduct studies as well as for start up costs for the Accountable entity.

Mr Chikwanda said he was aware that there will be more work to be done after the signing of the Compact.

Some of the critical work to be done will include the preparation of detailed design studies for the sub-projects which is expected to be completed in mid June 2012. Thereafter, the procurement of the contractors is expected to take another estimated six months to be completed. The actual construction is expected to begin in early 2014.

“As Government, we are looking forward to the implementation of this project because the existing water and sanitation infrastructure in Lusaka is old and the capacity has been overwhelmed by the rapid growth of  over  two million compared to 134,000 at independence,” he added.

He noted that the programme only covers Lusaka Province and that the intention of the Government was to leverage for more financing to roll-out the programme to all parts of the country.

Against this background, the Minister said the support of the American Government would be most welcome, especially as the United States continues to lead the world in providing development aid even in the face of the austerity measures in almost all high income economies.

Mr. Chikwanda also assured MCC of the Government’s strong commitment to good governance, particularly the control of corruption, ensuring voice and accountability, civil liberties and maintenance of a conducive economic environment for business.

He stressed that Government would set aside funds for sewer connections for poor households and maintenance of drains in order to ensure that the Conditions Precedent in the Compact were met.

Earlier, MCC Vice President for MCC’s Department of Compact Operations Patrick Fine said his organization was looking forward to working with Zambia in this partnership with excitement.

He noted that Zambia would be the 24th country that his organization would be working with in this partnership but warned that a great deal of work lay ahead if everything envisaged in the Compact was to be completed on time.

“We are very happy with the relationship we have with the new government and we hope that there will be no hitches to the programme,” he said.

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