Pan-African stakeholder consultation identifies priorities to close the water investment gap

by | Dec 22, 2022 | Events, High-Level Panel, News

Water-sector stakeholders from government and civil society convened to input on the content priorities for the High-Level Report that will be produced by the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa in time for the UN 2023 Water Conference.

The report will recommend ways in which African countries can attract at least US$30bn in investments into the water and sanitation sector by 2030 in order to realise Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 and all SDGs that are dependent on water security. 

The stakeholder consultation took place virtually on 15 December 2022 and was convened by the African Union Commission and the Panel Co-Chairs, Republic of Senegal and Kingdom of Netherlands, with support from the Panel Convenors’ Secretariat and AIP Technical Support Unit hosted by Global Water Partnership Africa. 

“We hope this stakeholder consultation will contribute inputs and perspectives on the priorities, recommendations, key messages, potential pathways for mobilizing investments and finance. This will pave the way for the Panel to engage with development partners, donors, investors/private sectors, UN Development Institutions,” said Mr. Harsen Nyambe, Director of Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment at the African Union Commission (AUC) in statement read by Mr. Ahmed Eldaw, Water and Sanitation Policy Advisor for the AUC.

Addressing Africa’s water investment gap

The International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa and the High-Level Report support the implementation of the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP).

Adopted in February 2021 by the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government during the 34th ordinary session of African Union summit, the AIP aims to leverage at least USD 30bn/year by 2030 close the existing investment gap in the water sector, estimated at between USD 11-20 billion dollars per year.  

“African stakeholders should work on three essential levers: (1) develop means to attract diversified and innovative financing, (2) facilitate the mobilization of private investments, (3) encourage investment in institutional and human capacities in order to ensure sustainable management of blue infrastructures,” said Mr. Mohammed CBC Diatta, Sherpa to the Panel Co-Chair, H.E. Macky Sall ,President of the Republic of Senegal and Chair of the African Union.

The Republic of Senegal emphasised the need for Africa to propose concrete actions to be taken to fill the infrastructure gap in the water sector; and that the Water Action Agenda to be issued by the UN 2023 Water Conference should lead to clear commitments in terms of water investments and infrastructure financing, particularly in Africa.

Towards the UN 2023 Water Conference

The Pan Africa consultation meeting as well as its outcomes form part of the preparatory process of the Road Map of the International High Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa. The outcomes and stakeholder inputs will contribute to the Panel’s High-Level Report and Investment Action Plan. The Report will be part of the input in the UN 2023 Water Conference in March 2023.

Ms. Nathalie Olijslager-Jaarsma, Program Director UN Water Conference at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged all stakeholders to engage in the preparation of the Water Action Agenda which will be released following the UN 2023 Water Conference as a list of actionable commitments by governments and non-governmental entities. 

“The Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP) creates a base on which to act and provides a programme in which to invest. We hope to see the AIP embedded within the Water Action Agenda,” said Ms. Olijslager-Jaarsma.

Transforming Africa’s investment outlook

Lack of private sector and financial sector’s interest, low profile of water, weak business case for water, inadequate capacity for preparation of bankable projects, political instability and weak governance were among some of the reasons identified by stakeholders for the low investments in Africa’s water and sanitation. 

The participants in the consultation identified various diverse priorities to be addressed in the High-Level Report including:

  • need for high-level political leadership in order to maintain water on national and international developmental agendas;
  • water and sanitation as a basic human right and how finance can be leveraged in order to fill this gap;
  • strategies  and mechanisms for public-private partnerships to finance water development including the need to fund and enable civil society to hold governments accountable and the need to fund efficiency improvements to make the water sector more attractive to investors;
  • the possibility of a blended investment finance facility to leverage private finance;  
  • the need to fairly price water and ensure return on investments, amongst others.

All inputs made by stakeholders will be considered in the drafting of the High-Level Report, which is supported by the AIP Expert Advisory Group made up of over 40 specialists in various water-related sectors including finance, climate, conservation, WASH, public administration, gender, and others.

Launched at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, the High-Level Panel was inaugurated during COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt by H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal in his capacity as Chair of the AU.

The Panel is co-chaired by H.E. Macky Sall; H.E. Hage Geingob, President of Republic of Namibia; and H.E. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands and H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who is the Panel’s alternate co-chair.