Leaders call for accelerated investment in Africa’s water infrastructure

11th November 2022

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Global leaders and Heads of State from Africa and the global north, gathered at the twenty-seventh United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), have called for urgent investment into Africa’s water and sanitation sector as it convenes the inauguration the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa.

At least $30-billion a year is required to achieve water security by 2030; however, only $10-billion to $19-billion is invested each year in Africa, which cannot sustain the food production, sanitation and industrialisation needs of the continent’s rapidly growing population.

Currently, more than 300-million Africans do not have access to clean drinking water and over 700-million live without access to good sanitation.

“There is therefore a need to close the gap by intensifying advocacy and, above all, action,” said Senegal President Macky Sall at the inauguration of the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa during the Heads of State High-Level Implementation Summit of the COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on November 8.

“Without action, climate change will make water shortages worse and lead to more food insecurity, disease burden, human displacement, conflict and obstruct the continent’s economic development.”

The panel aims to drive global political mobilisation and international commitment for water investments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

The panel will develop a high-level report and investment plan for the 2023 United Nations (UN) Water Conference, and for African Union Heads of States, with pathways and recommendations for African countries on how to mobilise resources to close the water investment gap in Africa.

“At least $30-billion a year is required to meet the SDG 6 on water and sanitation, and innovative sources of funding will be required, as well as strengthening governance and the capacity of institutional structures to ensure their efficient use,” he says.

Co-chaired by Sall, Namibian President Hage Geingob and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with Tanzania’s former President Jakaya Kikwete as the panel’s alternate co-chairperson, the panel aims to mobilise this required investment by 2030 to implement the Continental Water Investment Programme in Africa.

“Water responds to the most essential human needs. Without water, a prosperous, equitable and peaceful Africa is not possible. It is our hope that the formation of this panel sends a clear message: water is a priority for Africa governments and Africa is ready to work with the world to achieve water security for each and every African citizen,” Sall continues.

Rutte adds that the panel is an opportunity to focus discussions on prioritising water investments ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference and the high-level report will be a key output from the conference.

“We expect it will guide African governments and development partners as we work collectively towards water action to accelerate progress towards all water-dependent Sustainable Development Goals,” he says.

Achieving SDG 6 will contribute to the achievement of other SDGs, says Kenya President William Ruto, who is also on the panel, adding that water sector governance is vital.

“Good governance in water management is key to managing this highly complex policy domain.”

The panel’s work will be supported by a water investment scorecard, which will strengthen the necessary enabling investment environment in Africa.

Strong, forward looking and inclusive governance systems; improved financing structures, incentives and cost recovery mechanisms for the water sector; and adequate processes to track, monitor and evaluate the performance and sustainability of investments is required for finance to flow, he continues.

“What is good for Africa is good for the world. Africa is ground zero – it is disproportionately affected by climate change. The consequences for Africa will be felt by all. This panel must deliver finance for African adaptation,” says Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) CEO and professor Dr Patrick Verkooijen.

“Water is life for children but millions of children across Africa still do not have sustainable access to sufficient water. If we are serious about our goal of water security and sanitation for every child, we must increase financing for water investments in Africa,” adds United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) executive director Catherine Russell.

African Union Development Agency (AUDA-Nepad) CEO Nardos Bekele-Thomas calls on all the stakeholders that have rallied around the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa programme and the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme, and new partners, particularly the private sector, to continue supporting investments in the water sector and to support the efforts of the high-level panel through implementing the action plans and recommendations that the panel will advance.

The panel is convened by the African Ministers’ Council on Water, the United Nations Development Programme, Unicef, AUDA-Nepad, African Development Bank, GCA and Global Water Partnership.

The panel is expected to meet at least three times over the next 18 months.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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