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Experts Seek Equitable Access To Clean Water, Sanitation Services Across Africa

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Stakeholders and experts in the water sector have harped on the need to ensure equitable access to clean water and sanitation services, particularly in rural communities across Africa.

This observation was made at a panel session on the sidelines of the 21st International Congress of the African Water Association (AfWA) and 7th Fecal Sludge Management Alliance (FSMA) Conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Panelists at the session, entitled “Maximizing the Potential of the Private Sector in the Water and Sanitation Sector in Africa to Reach Sustainable Development Goal 6″, highlighted the importance of including rural residents in initiatives to improve access to water and sanitation services, even in the face of challenging economics.

The event, which was convened by the African Development Bank (AfDB), brought together experts, engineers, technicians, researchers, and other stakeholders to discuss Africa’s water and sanitation challenges under the theme “Acting for sustainable management of resources and access to water and sanitation for all”.

Aside from the panel sessions, the 21st AfWA Congress and 7th FSMA conference also featured exhibitions, and equally hosted an exhibition booth to showcase projects. The congress also discussed the important role of private sector investment in water and sanitation across Africa.

The discussion was moderated by AfDB’s Division Manager for Water Coordination and Partnerships, Jeanne Astrid Fouegue-Ngako de Foki, who skillfully guided the participants through a wide range of topics and insights.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Panelists, representing the public and private sectors as well as civil society, called for comprehensive reviews of national water policies and an approach that distinguishes between multinational corporations and small and micro enterprises.

Mali’s Deputy National Director of Hydraulics, Djoouro Bocoum pinpointed the disparities in service delivery between urban and rural areas and called on the AfDB to help overcome the apparent inequality.

President of Odial Solutions, Thierry Barbotte corroborated this assertion, noting that businesses were forced to balance between profitability and serving end users but stressed that rural areas needed infrastructure for water and sanitation too.

Barbotte warned that investments in rural areas may take up to five years to yield profits and suggested that a system be developed to allow businesses to absorb any losses incurred during this time.

President of the Board of Directors of SODECI, Côte d’Ivoire’s water distribution company, Basile Ebah opened the session with a presentation on the now-privatized entity and the role that its partnership with French company Eranove, played in its development.

Ebah noted that former president Félix Houphouët-Boigny was instrumental in pushing the alliance as he sought to consolidate Côte d’Ivoire’s economic miracle in the 1960s by expanding access to drinking water.

He further stated that governments have an essential role to play in terms of putting good regulations in place to support the private sector.

Eranove’s Director for Development and Projects, Ralph Olaye offered some context in the form of statistics, citing AfDB’s figures, which reveals that developing Africa’s water sector requires an investment of $40 billion a year.

Olaye said the private sector’s contribution to investments in the sector was just 2 percent, nothing that businesses could bring much more than just financing to the table, such as valuable management expertise and services.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=85786

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