Of all the primary infrastructure sectors, it is the development of water-related infrastructure projects that best tracks the world’s desire for an improved standard of life across the continent of Africa.
Rational mobilization of water resources is an essential condition for sustained economic prosperity in Africa. The challenges are significant at a national and regional level, particularly given the trans-boundary nature of African water resources such as Lake Victoria, The Congo, The Nile and other rivers that span several African countries.
Africa’s economic emergence demands that water resources, which are most often trans-boundary in nature, are managed effectively through cross-border programmes.The political will to improve water infrastructure in Africa is reflected in initiatives such as PIDA and river-based organizations such as The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC). African initiatives and organizations such as these two are defining specifically what kinds of projects and interventions are needed to overcome the preventable consequences of high hydrological variability – aggravated by climate change.
This is where the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) adds particular value. Our convening power has allowed us to facilitate workshops, meetings and donor conferences where complex water issues are addressed, projects are fine-tuned, financing is identified and solutions are developed.
ICA Water Platform
The ICA Strategic Business Plan (2010-2012) encouraged greater involvement of ICA members in sector-related activities. It proposed ‘sector ownership’, whereby an ICA member could champion assignments and provide leadership, benefitting from ICA’s 'convening power' and base within an African institution.
Accordingly, the ICA Water Platform was established in 2011 and is championed by Germany - which provides generous financial support as well as an infrastructure expert to supervise the implementation of ICA Water Platform activities.
ICA’s Water Platform is a pro-active, results-oriented initiative that encompasses all aspects of water infrastructure development in Africa -- everything from water provision (potable water supply, sanitation & irrigation) to water resource management (storage & dams) to non-revenue water investment strategies to climate change adaptation measures.
The ICA Water Platform facilitates active cooperation and matchmaking between ICA Members, key African stakeholders and the private sector, including regular dialogue leading to joint investment activities.
The ICA Water Platform Goals & Objectives
To scale-up financing for sustainable water infrastructure in Africa from public, private and public-private sources.
- To identify and facilitate bankable water-related projects, with a focus on regional projects.
- To facilitate dialogue on financing between African stakeholders, development partners and the private sector to promote best practices, remove bottlenecks and facilitate regional Water Infrastructure Programs and member initiatives.
- To facilitate greater co-operation (in alignment with African priorities, e.g. African Water Vision 2025, Sharm-El Sheik Declaration) among ICA members, relevant initiatives and partnerships, and other important sources of water infrastructure finance, via regular ICA Water Platform meetings, support of the African Ministerial Council on Water work plan and matchmaking activities.
ICA Water Platform Results and Impact
The ICA Water Platform has had a profound and meaningful impact on resource mobilization for sustainable water projects in Africa. A good example of this positive impact is The Lake Victoria Basin Commission.
LAKE VICTORIA BASIN COMMISSION
The ICA Water Platform worked very closely with The Lake Victoria Basin Commission to develop 22 project ideas – referred to as concept notes. These concept notes articulated and defined much-needed projects for the Lake Victoria Basin. The ICA Water Platform then went on to work with The Government of Sweden to sponsor a donors conference in Entebbe, Uganda. At this conference donors from all across the world, as well as representatives from the private sector got together to review the concepts and agree on funding. The ICA Water Platform representative, along with other colleagues from the ICA Secretariat worked actively on match-making activities, interviews with the press and follow-up activities. The results of this conference were tremendous. As a direct result of the ICA –through the specific initiatives of the ICA Water Platform, The Lake Victoria Basin Commission has funding to begin almost all of their projects – and most importantly, they have formed meaningful relationships with these donors and are working in partnership – to preserve and protect the cultural and environmental resources of The Lake Victoria Basin.
Water Investment Picture
ICA members reported promising indicators, with $4.6 bn of investment commitment in 2012. This represents a 35% rise over 2011 – and is the highest recorded level of investment by ICA members during the 2008-12 timeframe.
While water receives less investment than either energy or transport infrastructure, ICA members still committed $3.7 bn in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 – representing a 54% increase on equivalent investment in 2011.
Despite its huge potential, Central Africa has received the lowest share of investment in water infrastructure year-after-year compared to all the other regions. At around $1.7bn, total investment from 2008- 2012 in Central Africa is only slightly above half that achieved by Southern Africa (around $3.1bn), which is the second lowest figure.
The picture in North Africa is more positive. The region experienced an 11% drop in investment from ICA members in 2012 – a year of political turmoil in several North African Countries – but North Africa has generally seen high levels of water sector investment, with total investment at nearly $4.2bn between 2008 and 2012. Generally speaking, North Africa has consistently garnered 20-30% of reported annual commitments to water infrastructure across the continent.
Given the cross-border nature of water resources, more investment is expected across the continent as PIDA and other water-specific regional programmes are accelerated in the coming years.
The ICA funded the African Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD), a comprehensive World Bank study to assess the magnitude of Africa’s infrastructure needs. The 2009 AICD Flagship report Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation revealed many important challenges for African water infrastructure, including climate change and the implications of energy, food and financial crises. This Flagship study and all the knowledge tools associated with it provided the platform for the AIKP, (African Infrastructure Knowledge Programme) an African Development Bank managed initiative that aims to build on the work of the AICD by collecting relevant statistics about infrastructure in Africa.
Source: ICA. For more detailed information and the latest figures on water, consult the 2012 Annual Report, Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa.
For more information about specific ICA Water Platform activities, please visit ICA News/Water.