President Cyril Ramaphosa has today, 23 May 2023, arrived in the Kingdom of Lesotho on a Working Visit for the launch of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
His Majesty King Letsie III, President Ramaphosa and Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane, will jointly launch this project at the Polihali Dam.
The launch will commence with a sod-turning ceremony and will be followed by formal programme.
The launch is a critical step on the journey to greater water and energy security for South Africans and Basotho, and is a demonstration of the strong relations between the two countries.
It is also a demonstration of the human capital and technology that is shared and deployed jointly as neighbours, in the interest of improving the lives of citizens and economic development in both nations.
South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho share a close historic relationship whose substance today entails strengthened economic cooperation between our two countries.
The Working Visit aims to reinforce this relationship in which South Africa and Lesotho are pursuing the common interests of developing the region, creating employment and advancing innovation and technology.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a partnership between South Africa and Lesotho dating back to a treaty agreed upon by the two governments to supply water to the Vaal River System, which ensures water security for Gauteng, the Free State, the Northern Cape and the North West.
The binational infrastructure project involves the construction of a network of tunnels and the dams to transfer water from the Orange-Senqu River in the Lesotho Highlands to South Africa, and to use the water delivery system to provide hydro-electric power to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Phase 1 of the project was completed 20 years ago, in 2003.
The water transfer component of Phase 2 comprises a 165-metre high concrete-faced rock fill dam at Polihali, downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers.
This development will also feature a 38-kilometre, concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.
A number of meetings of Ministers and Senior Officials took place in Maseru on Monday, 22 May 2023, to prepare for the launch and to deliberate on water and energy cooperation.
These activities are also a precursor to the hosting in Pretoria of the inaugural session of the South Africa-Lesotho Binational Commission. A date for the inaugural session is being firmed up through diplomatic channels.
President Ramaphosa is accompanied by Minister of Water and Sanitation, Mr Senzo Mchunu; Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe; Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa; and Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Alvin Botes.
The launch will commence from 13h00 at the Polihali Dam in Malingoaneng.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Presidency: Republic of South Africa.