Decisive action has been taken by member states of the African Union to address water shortages through a new programme called the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP).
The AIP, which is a first of its kind in Africa, aims to mobilise $30 Billion USD over 10 years to finance essential climate-resilient water infrastructure projects. It is set to create at least five million jobs.
The AIP will address two significant obstacles facing AU Member States: lack of financing and inadequate preparation of bankable projects.
“At least 18 of the 55 countries in the African Union will benefit from these funds, including five pilot countries, namely Benin, Cameroon, Uganda, Tunisia and Zambia, as well as five transboundary basins. These are the North-Western Sahara aquifer system, the Volta Basin, the Lake Chad Basin, the Kagera/Lake Victoria Basin and the Zambezi Basin,” says the Global Water Partnership (GWP).
The water projects will focus on the construction of dams, water transfer systems, irrigation systems, water management information systems, water supply, and sanitation infrastructure that are critically needed to address Africa’s growing socio-economic needs.
According to the Global Water Partnership (GWP), only $10-19 Billion USD is invested each year in Africa’s water sector. However, the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that $64 Billion USD is required each year to achieve Africa’s goal to achieve water security for all by 2025.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been the worst region impacted by this substantial lack of investment, with 400 million people lacking a safe and clean source of drinking water.
“The AIP is designed to address this investment gap, within the context of African economies being under considerable pressure going forward due to Covid-19 economic fall-out and the devastating effects of climate change, which are becoming more frequent and more severe with each passing year,” explained Mr. Alex Simalabwi, Executive Secretary and Director of the AIP Support Unit at the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa and Africa Coordination.
Alongside lack of funding, water stress in Africa has also been linked to a lack of technical knowledge in the construction and development of water infrastructure. To address this, the AIP will focus on knowledge sharing and capacity building of AU Members States.
To track progress and mobilize investment, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) has launched its Scorecard which intended to provide mutual accountability, identify bottlenecks and track a country's progress in meeting its SDG 6 goals.