The Water Diplomat caught up with the head of the Global Water Partnership’s Africa Coordinator Alex Simalabwi to discuss a major water sector investment programme flagged as a “game changer” for investments in Africa.
The Zambia Water Investment Programme (ZWIP), the first national level water investment programme planned under the Africa Investment Programme, was launched by Zambian President Haikande Hichilema on the 16th of July. It is foreseen that programme will leverage $5.75 Billion USD in investments in water security and sustainable water utilisation.
According to Simalabwi, translating the recommendations of high-level panels into concrete actions on the ground is always a challenge. However, the ZWIP constitutes a ‘reset’ at four levels. There is a high-level panel to leverage investments; there is political commitment for the programme at the head of state level; there is a prioritisation of where the funds need to go; there is a mutual accountability mechanism, linked to a scorecard, to ensure that these investments are monitored.
The resources will be mobilised through support for the development of bankable projects that are a combination of grants, concessional finance, equity, and other financial innovations.
The main objective of the programme is to enhance job creation through gender sensitive investments in water security, industrialisation and climate resilient development. Through this programme, which is closely aligned to Zambia’s 8th National Development Plan, water is seen as a critical enabler for socioeconomic development.
The investments will focus on three main areas, i.e. water investment for economic transformation, resilience building through water investment, and water governance and institution building. The investments will thus firstly respond to the water needs of the different economic sectors and support the diversification of the economy. Secondly, the programme will build the climate resilience of the country through an inclusive strategy, in which there is a particular focus on gender. Thirdly, the programme will strengthen the enabling environment for water investments in the country, which will be achieved through capacity development and investments in water governance systems.
The Zambia Water Investment Programme is the first national level water investment programme on the African Continent following the launch of the Africa Investment Programme at the 9th World Water Forum in Senegal in March 2022.
The Africa Investment Programme is overseen by an International High-Level Panel on Water Investments in Africa is co-chaired by Macky Sall, President of Senegal, Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and Jaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania.
Alex Simalabwi is Executive Secretary (CEO) of the Global Water Partnership Africa-Coordination, Head of the International High Level Panel Joint Convenors Secretariat, and Director of the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme. He holds degrees in business (MBA), Engineering and graduate of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.