African Development Bank champions private-public partnerships and good governance for universal water access in Kenya

Kenya’s Water and Sanitation Investors Conference 2024, held in the capital, Nairobi, concluded with a call for accelerated investment towards universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.

The March 6-8 conference underscored the need for collaboration to support governments in bridging the financing gap through private sector funding, blended financing from commercial banks, Development Finance Institutions, and capital markets. Kenya requires about Ksh 995 billion (around $7.5 billion) to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.

Mecuria Assefaw, Manager of the African Development Bank Water Security and Sanitation Division, highlighted the importance of diversifying investments in the sector to meet the financing gap. He stressed the significance of Private Public Partnerships in ensuring water and sanitation for all.

“By facilitating collaboration for PPPs, we unlock a new door for investments and capital,” he said, adding that closing the financing gap in the sector requires long-term sustained efforts.

Assefaw referenced successful PPP initiatives like the Rwanda’s Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project, co-funded by the Bank alongside other development partners, which has significantly improved water services for half a million people.

Julius Korir, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, affirmed the political goodwill in Kenya for PPP projects in the water sector, noting efforts to align the Water Act with the PPP législation to opérationnalise such projects.

The conference emphasized the importance of creating an enabling investment environment through good governance and regulatory structures. Emily Kilongi, a Senior Water and Sanitation Officer at the Bank, stressed that proper policy, institutional, and regulatory arrangements are vital for facilitating investments in activities that contribute to water security and safe sanitation.”  

The Bank was represented in other high-level sessions, including the Catchment to Tap and Climate Change Investment Opportunities. Emmanuel Olet, Chief Water Development Officer, and Benson Bumbe Nkhoma, Principal Water Resources Management and Development Officer in the Water Development and Sanitation Department, called for innovative ways of conserving catchment areas while engaging with communities, given the emerging and growing challenges resulting from population growth and expanding land use.

Edwin Mwangi, a Private Sector Specialist with the Bank, reiterated the critical role of the private sector in implementing the construction of water sector infrastructure and bridging the funding gap to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 6 through blended finance solutions.

The African Development Bank co-sponsored the conference, which was organized by Kenya’s Water Sector Trust Fund. It brought together stakeholders from various sectors. The Bank’s ongoing active portfolio in the country currently stands at $3.98 billion, including investments in critical infrastructure (transport, water and sanitation, and energy) accounting for 74%.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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