Investments in Africa’s Water Sector Picks up Momentum as Heads of States High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa Begins Work

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Over 300 million Africans do not have access to clean drinking water and over 700 million live without access to good sanitation

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Heads of State and global leaders from Africa and the global north have united to call for urgent investment into Africa’s water and sanitation sector.

“USD $10-19 billion is invested each year in Africa, while at least USD $30 billion/year is required to achieve water security by 2030. There is therefore a need to close the gap by intensifying advocacy and, above all, action,” said H.E. Macky Sall when he inaugurated the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa during the Heads of State High-Level Implementation Summit of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 8 November 2022.

Over 300 million Africans do not have access to clean drinking water and over 700 million live without access to good sanitation. 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 objective of the Panel is to mobilise USD $30 billion per year by 2030, in order to implement the Continental Water Investment Program in Africa.

The Panel will develop a high-level report and investment plan for the 2023 UN Water Conference and 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. Current levels of investment, USD $10-19 billion, cannot sustain the food production, sanitation, and industrialisation needs of the continent’s rapidly growing population.

The Panel is co-chaired by H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal in his capacity as Chair of the African Union (AU); H.E. Hage Geingob, President of Republic of Namibia; and H.E. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands. H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, is the Panel’s alternate co-chair.

At least USD $30 billion per year is required to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 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.

“The Panel is an opportunity to focus discussions on prioritising water investments ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference and the Panel’s 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,” said H.E. Mark Rutte.

“Achieving SDG 6 will contribute to the achievement of other SDGs. Good governance in water management is key to managing this highly complex policy domain. Water sector governance is vital. Given the unique positioning of the water sector, private-public partnerships are very important,” said H.E. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya, who will sit on the Panel.

H.E. Badara Joof, Vice President of the Republic of the Gambia stressed that the country is facing considerable economic and development challenges and supports the mobilisation of finance for the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme.

The Panel’s work will be supported by a water investment scorecard, which will strengthen the necessary enabling investment environment in Africa. For finance to flow we will need 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.

“I would like to call upon all the stakeholders that have rallied around the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) programme, and the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme, and new partners that are coming to the table, 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,” said Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of the Africa Development Agency-NEPAD.

Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator emphasised that the UNDP commits to supporting the development of financing approaches, and development of the work of the Panel.

“What’s good for Africa is good for the world. Africa is ground zero – it is disproportionately affected by climate change. The consequences of Africa will be felt by all. This Panel must deliver finance for African adaptation,” said Prof. Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation.

“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,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director: United Nations Children’s Fund.

The Panel is convened by AMCOW, African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, African Development Bank, UN Development Programme, UNICEF, Global Center on Adaptation, and Global Water Partnership. The Panel is expected to meet at least 3 times over the next 18 months.

H.E Macky Sall announced the following to join  the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa as newly appointed members:

1. H.E. Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa

2. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco

3. H.E. President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of Congo

4. H.E. William Samoei Arap Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya

5. H.E. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia

6. H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania

7. H.E. Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia

8. H.E. Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany

9. H.E. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland

10. H.E. Ulf Kristersson, Prime Minister of Sweden

11. H.E. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark

12. H.E. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

H.E. Macky Sall also welcomed the following Heads of international and multilateral organizations to join the Panel:

1. H.E. David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group.

2. H.E Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

3. H.E. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD

4. H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (EC)

5. H.E. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

6. H.E. Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF

7. H.E. Prof Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA)

8. H.E. Samantha Power, USAID Administrator

9. H.E. Pablo Bereciartua, President of the World Water Partnership Organization.

10. H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union, who will ensure the overall coordination of the Panel with the technical assistance of the Panel Secretariat led by;

11. Mr. Alex Simalabwi, Executive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership for Africa and Head of the Panel Secretariat, reporting to the Alternate Co-Chair of the Panel, H.E. Jakaya Kikwete.

The International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa supports the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP) (http://bit.ly/3UHNKny) in its goal to leverage USD $30 billion towards climate resilient water and sanitation investments and create 5 million jobs.

The Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government adopted the AIP as part of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa – Priority Action Plan 2 (PIDA-PAP 2) during the 34th ordinary session of African Union summit on 7 February 2021.

In August 2018, AUDA-NEPAD, African Development Bank, African Ministers’ Council on Water, the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, and Global Water Partnership signed a joint communique to transform the investment outlook for water security and sustainable sanitation, the AIP goal.