Presentation On Water Demand By Industry By Mrs. A. Shonhiwa, Permanent Secretary For Industry And Commerce At The Water Resources And Infrastructure Investment Conference, 24 June 2015, Harare International Conference Centre

1.1  Water is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of development in Zimbabwe and because of the intimate relationship between water and the country’s major economic sectors, sustainable water development and management is a necessary condition for economic recovery.

1.2  Zimbabwe is blessed to have comparatively good access to water. When the Zimbabwe got independence in 1980, the Government initiated a comprehensive development programme of the nation’s water supply and sanitation infrastructure which resulted in improvement in the levels of service coverage countrywide.

1.3  However, due to the economic challenges that the country has experienced in the last decade, service provision in the water sector has been derailed. Thus the country is now in need of a comprehensive water management revival strategy, linking social and economic development.


2.1  Industry depends on water, much like agriculture and domestic households depend on water. According to a Handbook for the Assessment of Catchment Water Demand and Use produced in 2003 by HR Wallingford, UK Department for International Development (DFID) in collaboration with the Department for Water Development, the then Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development in Zimbabwe, the University of Zambia and University of Zululand, the Industrial sector in Zimbabwe uses about 7% of total water consumption in the country as compared to 79% for agriculture sector and 14 percent for the domestic sector.

2.2  Water is a key input for industry and an immutable precondition for industrialisation. Probably every manufactured product uses water during some part of the production process. The water is used for such purposes as:

  • Fabricating,
  • Processing,
  • Washing,
  • Diluting,
  • Cooling, or transporting a product; or
  • For sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility.

2.3  The factors affecting water demand vary widely between the different industrial operations. The major factors common to the industrial and commercial sectors in determining water demand are:

  • Type of industries;
  • Expected rates of growth or decline of industrial sector;
  • Tariff levels of water;
  • Access to supply and alternative supplies;
  • Extent of the use of water saving technologies;
  • Extent of water reuse;
  • Government incentives

2.4  Some industries that use large amounts of water produce such commodities as food, beverages, paper, chemicals, refined petroleum, or primary metals.

2.5  Water consumption figures for industry are often expressed in terms of cubic metres of water used per unit of product produced. For example for steel production water use is measured as m3/tonne of steel produced, for beer it is measured in m³/m³ of beer produced. The method of manufacture used by a particular industry affects its water use. Some industries are relatively consistent in their water use because they use the same processes, the same equipment and produce similar projects.

2.6  For industries that consume significant quantities of water, water consumption varies in an approximately linear manner with an increase in production. Hence the planned production capacity of an industrial plant is important in establishing the water consumption.

2.7  It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between the terms industrial water use and industrial water consumption. Industrial water use is defined as the quantity of water that is abstracted from a source (e.g. a river or borehole) for use by an industrial plant. In many industrial processes significant quantities of the water that is abstracted can be re-cycled and re-used. Industrial water consumption is the quantity of water that is “lost” (e.g. by being incorporated in a product such as soft drinks, or through evaporation from cooling towers) during the manufacture of a particular product.


3.1  Some studies conducted by the University of Zimbabwe in 2002 on water usage by industries indicated that industries were responsible for 25% of Bulawayo’s total water consumption (30,000 m³/day).

3.2  Detailed studies of water use and effluent water quality were carried out for three industries in Bulawayo by the University of Zimbabwe. The industrial plants studied included a soft drink manufacturing company, a sugar refining plant and a wire galvanising factory. For each of the three industries an industrial water use survey was carried out. Water quality sampling points were also identified within each process train.


4.1  The results for the three industries that were studied in Bulawayo showed that there is a lot which manufacturers can achieve to improve efficiency in water usage, by firstly carrying out audits to identify areas of improvement within the manufacturing process.

4.2  Regular, simple water monitoring surveys of the different water-using areas could be devised to assist in the monitoring of water consumption, as well as to supply information as to the state of equipment e.g. taps, pipes and valves.

4.3  Initial selection of water using equipment is also crucial. Modifications can also be done although usually costly in the short-term to incorporate recycling and reuse systems. Above all, good house keeping and awareness training for personnel could further help industries practice water demand management and cleaner production.

4.4  The initiatives of water demand management can also help reduce the strength and volume of industrial effluents and probably eliminate the use of toxic substances through substitution. The benefits do not accrue only to the industry but to the local authority through reduced costs of conveying and treating industrial effluents. Subsequently, the quality of effluent discharged from municipal sewage treatment works to the environment would improve, thereby limiting environmental damage and social costs leading to sustainable development.


5.1  There is a great concern that water demand in the country has outstripped supply capacity. It is worrisome to note that the last water production facilities upgrade in Harare was done in 1994 and the past 20 years have seen no expansion even though the demand has been increasing due to the increasing population.

5.2  As a result, there has been erratic water supply to industry which has continued to impact negatively on the industrial development of the country. Industry is also concerned about the decrease in water quality supplied by the Local Authorities.

5.3  In August 2014, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) conducted a study in Bulawayo which revealed that Bulawayo companies are operating below 40% of their capacity due to water shortages, among other issues. The survey also discovered that although the city was losing investment opportunities due to other economic problems, water shortages is one of the major reason why investors continue to avoid the city as an investment destination.

5.4  According to the CZI 2014 Manufacturing Sector Survey, power and water shortages proved to constrain industry capacity by 8.8% as at December 2013.

5.5  Most of our local industries rely on raw materials from the agricultural sector and again productivity of this sector is based on availability of water. 60% of raw materials required in the industry rely on agricultural sector. Due to water shortage in the agricultural sector, the local industry is currently facing a 6.2% raw material shortage as at 31 December 2013 (CZI 2014 Manufacturing Sector Survey).


  • Zimbabwe requires private investment to partner Government effort to rehabilitate existing water infrastructure, dams, water transport facilities and water treatment plants.
  • Completion of projects like Gwayi-Shangani, Kunzwi and Munyati dams in order to address water shortages are desperately needed to guarantee water supply to industry.
  • There is need for industry to improve water use efficiency by investing in water saving technologies where they are available. This requires a holistic examination of the facilities operations in terms of not only water use by various components used in the manufacturing process but in terms also effluent water quality.
  • There is need to carry out a water audit out of industrial establishments as one of the key activities that assists in improving specific water consumption on a site.


7.1  It has been difficult to get consolidated statistics on water demand by industry and the absence of data on total volumes of water used by industry prevents detailed analysis of water demand by industry. However, we anticipate more demand for water by industry going into the future as industrial activity is picking up and as investment increases.

7.2  Already in the 2nd quarter of 2015, we have investment in the high water usage sectors that will be commissioned in the next 9 – 12 months. This is in addition to the expansions we have witnessed in a number of sectors such as the dairy and beverage sectors.

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