Keynote address by H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete at the Africa and Mediterranean Continental Session of the GWP 2020 Network Meeting: Implementing the GWP Strategy in Africa through the Africa Water Investment Programme

  • Chair of the Global Water Partnership - Ambassador Howard Bamsey
  • GWP Africa Regional Chairs: Professor Abdou Maiga - GWP West Africa, Professor Michael Scoullos-GWP Mediterranean, Mr. Sylvain Guebanda-GWP Central Africa, Mr. Peter Macharia-GWP Eastern Africa
  • GWPO Interim Executive Secretary - Mr. Peter Rempiski
  • GWP Africa Regional Executive Secretaries and Coordinators
  • Representatives of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), African Development Bank, African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), Sanitation and Water for All, European Commission
  • Distinguished delegates and partners from across Africa and Mediterranean

Thank you for welcoming me to the Global Water Partnership family. I join GWP at a very challenging time; the year 2020 has bought unprecedented challenges upon our continent. Where before we faced insufficient delivery of the water infrastructure needed to meet Africa’s needs, we now find ourselves confronted with the additional obstacle of the global economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, while grappling with the increasing risks of climate change.

According to the 2020 African Development Bank Economic Outlook , Africa’s economic prospects are weak. Real GDP in Africa is projected to contract by 3.4 per cent in 2020, from the January 2020 pre-Covid–19 projection.

The African Development Bank notes that, cumulatively, GDP losses could range between $173 billion and close to $237 billion over this year and the next. The pandemic has triggered a sudden increase in inflation. Expansionary fiscal spending could double already high fiscal deficits. As many as 50 million more Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty, and close to 30 million jobs could be lost. The good news is that the curve of the pandemic in Africa is flattening gradually. We hope this continues.

Despite these challenges, the resourceful will always find opportunities in challenges, and Africa is home to the resourceful. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on water and sanitation - this is an opportunity for GWP and partners to mobilise action on water investments.

During my tenure as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania between 2005 and 2015, our country faced enormous challenges in water. In that context we designed a Water Sector Development Program - or WSDP - under a Sector Wide Approach to Planning. Our goal was to address shortfalls in urban and rural water infrastructure, to improve the water resource management through upgrading of nine water basins, and to strengthen the sector.

In this context, it can be said that the overall objective of WSDP was and still is to reduce poverty through improvement in the governance of water resources and sustainable delivery of water supply and sanitation services. The programme is still running and a 2013 external evaluation by Oxford Policy Management found it to be the largest national water programme in Africa at the time, with confirmed funding of $1.3 billion for its first phase.

WSDP had two phases and currently phase 2 is being implemented up to 2022. What I want to pin point here is the lessons we learned from the difficulties that slowed down the anticipated progress of WSDP phase 1. These included delays in procurement, the technical capacity of implementing institutions, and the complexity of the prepared program implementation manuals.

You may well know that the implementation challenges faced by Tanzania are not unique to my country – and the lessons we learned are opportunities for us all to do better.

According to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa hosted by the African Development Bank, delays in implementation of water projects are prevalent across the continent.

Understanding this, how can GWP and its partners rally to contribute to the 2025 Africa Water Vision of water security for all?

According the Africa Water facility at the African Development Bank, $64 billion/year is required annually to meet the 2025 Africa Water Vision¹. But the actual investment is between $10 and $19 billion per year, leaving a big water investment gap. With Covid 19 and climate change risks compounding these challenges, we clearly need to act with urgency.

  • By 2030, Africa’s population will reach 1.6 billion. This will require a tenfold increase in water for social-economic needs
  • Over 300 million without access to potable water
  • Over 700 million without access to adequate sanitation
  • Over 40 billion otherwise productive hours are spent in fetching water and sanitation 
  • GDP loss of 5% per year due to inadequate water and sanitation 
  • Climate change losses are estimated at $1.4 billion /year for the 8 most prone countries to water disasters in Africa 
  • Less than 10% of Africa’s hydropower potential of 304,350 MW is utilized
  • 90% of untreated wastewater discharged directly into rivers and lakes

In order to assist countries address these challenges and move forward, we need to understand what holds us back. We have identified three main obstacles.

First, across our continent, the planning and investment of ongoing and new SDG 6 investments in water and sanitation are not coordinated with interventions in health, energy and food security. What results is structurally embedded sector fragmentation- or so called ‘silos’ that undermine job creation and inclusive economic growth.

Secondly, the planning and decision making around climate resilient water investments are not gender transformative.

Thirdly, the preparation and implementation of bankable transboundary water projects is slow – lagging behind the water needs of many economic sectors.

As Co-Chair of the Africa Water Investment Programme – or AIP, I am pleased to say that the AIP is directly responding to these obstacles. The programme was developed through a collaboration between the African Union Development Agency, African Ministers Council on Water and the African Development Bank following a 2018 call from the High Level Panel on Water, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General and President of the World Bank Group.

Our goal is to transform and improve the investment outlook for water security and sustainable sanitation for a prosperous, peaceful, and equitable society.

Practically, this means that the AIP will address the blockages to investment in water infrastructure in Africa through catalysing commitment and leadership for coordinated climate resilient SDG water investment toward inclusive growth, Jobs and Industrialization; mobilising partnerships and implementing gender-transformative investments in water climate development, and accelerating project preparation, finance and implementation of regional, transboundary water investments.

Through the AIP, I hope to work with global and African leaders from both government and private sector and GWP partners to galvanize high level political support to bring about the leadership, commitment, finance and the business case needed for water investments in both the private and public sectors. We will do this through the establishment of a High-Level International Panel for Climate Resilient Water Investments in Africa. The panel will include African leaders, representatives of the Heads of States, United Nations, World Bank, African Development Bank, business leaders, foundations, and artists.

The Panel will accelerate, champion and motivate for increased water investments on the continent to address urgent water related challenges in health, energy, food and climate change.

Their immediate objective will be is to develop a high-level report for the African Union Heads of State with recommendations for countries to mobilise $30 billion annually in investments towards the water infrastructure gap and contribute to the achievement of 2030 Sustainable Development Goal on Water and Sanitation.

The panel success – and indeed the success of the AIP - depends on GWP partners communicating our renewed investment agenda. Together, we need to foster understanding of the economics of water as a means-to-an-end in social-economic development.

We need to assist national governments to find answers to key water resources issues and considerations for an economic analysis for water resources. Questions such as:

  • What is the role of water in the national economy?
  • What impact does water pricing and availability have on the economy?
  • Where does inadequate water availability currently constrain the economy?
  • What are the funding sources for water investments?

The 2013 World Development Report found that three out of four jobs are water dependent. Water scarcity and supply disruptions limit economic growth and jobs. Water scarcity is one of the root causes of migration. Investments in water infrastructure and ‘water jobs’ generate positive returns and have a positive ripple effect on job creation across all economic sector. And yet, water professionals rarely emphasise the macro-economic issues and the critical role of water in job creation.

We need to support national efforts to strengthen the investment climate for water investment by defining a new narrative on water security – one that is rooted in economic theory and data. Recognising the role of water in economic growth, development and job creation.

To avoid delays in implementation of water investments, we need to support governments to enhance project preparation and transaction management in the delivery of water infrastructure.

Finally, we cannot talk about opportunity and resourcefulness without acknowledging the inherent potential that lies in our partners and also our youth. Africa is a young continent and our young people have an important role in driving water and sanitation investment in Africa – to observe, assist, initiate new methodologies, and implement. Let us spend time during this network meeting to discuss ways in which we can create a seat at the table for our young people today, because they are the ones that will take our work forward in the decades to come.

I thank you.