Story by Tichaona Kurewa
The Gwayi-Shangani Lake, which is under construction, is set to unlock various tourism opportunities in Matabeleland North Province.
The lake is expected to provide the much-needed water for wildlife in Hwange National Park and open new tourism activities such as fishing and boating.
Tourism players are excited by the growth prospects of the sector in Matabeleland North province, owing to the construction of the lake.
Wildlife Expert, Mr David Kuvawoga said, “An inland lake will boost local tourism, particularly with potential fishing cruises, boating and general leisure. This inevitably boosts employment levels in the community, empowering them and helping further the protection of wildlife as they will benefit directly from its presence. We have already seen through the Mabale Community Anti-Poaching unit how a community can step up and protect wildlife; the community is ready and willing to embrace the development.”
For others, the lake will attract the majority of wildlife from Botswana into Hwange National Park, considering that there will be massive water throwback on the Gwayi and Shangani rivers.
“We have a shared wildlife population with areas such as Tsholotsho as well as Botswana. For years, animals from these areas normally come all the way to the Gwayi River in search of water for hundreds of years, now with that water board being constantly there, it is going to be massive in terms of tourism. These animals will be residents because of the source of water; they won’t be migratory any more. This also means that there will be lodges, fishing camps; sport fishing, and boat cruises, and this will in turn create jobs for local people and the area will be a new lucrative market for investment in the tourism sector,” said Mr Langton Masunda, Conservationist.
Wildlife remains one of the major draw cards for tourists, its abundance has the potential to attract more travellers.
Construction of the US$275 million Gwayi-Shangani Lake is progressing well, with the project set for completion this year.