Kenya Advances Water Access with Public-Private Partnerships: African Development Bank Leads Charge

Kenya’s Water and Sanitation Investors Conference 2024, held in Nairobi, concluded with a resounding call for accelerated investment towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. The conference, spanning from March 6 to 8, emphasized the imperative for collaboration to bolster governments’ efforts in closing the financing gap, primarily through private sector funding and blended financing mechanisms involving commercial banks, Development Finance Institutions, and capital markets. Kenya aims to secure approximately Ksh 995 billion (equivalent to around $7.5 billion) to realize universal water and sanitation access by 2030.

Mercuria Assefaw, Manager of the African Development Bank Water Security and Sanitation Division, underscored the necessity of diversifying investments within the sector to address the financing shortfall. He emphasized the pivotal role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in ensuring equitable water and sanitation access for all.

“Facilitating collaboration for PPPs unlocks new avenues for investments and capital,” Assefaw remarked, noting that sustained, long-term efforts are essential to bridge the financing gap in the sector. Assefaw cited successful PPP endeavors such as Rwanda’s Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project, co-financed by the Bank and other development partners, which has significantly enhanced water services for half a million people.

Julius Korir, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation, affirmed Kenya’s political commitment to PPP projects in the water sector. He highlighted ongoing efforts to align the Water Act with PPP legislation to operationalize such initiatives. The conference stressed the pivotal role of fostering an enabling investment climate through robust governance frameworks and regulatory structures. Emily Kilongi, a Senior Water and Sanitation Officer at the Bank, emphasized the necessity of proper policy, institutional, and regulatory frameworks to facilitate investments in endeavors promoting water security and safe sanitation.

High-level sessions at the conference, including “Catchment to Tap” and “Climate Change Investment Opportunities,” saw representation from the African Development Bank. Emmanuel Olet, Chief Water Development Officer, and Benson Bumbe Nkhoma, Principal Water Resources Management and Development Officer in the Water Development and Sanitation Department, advocated for innovative approaches to conserving catchment areas while engaging communities amidst emerging challenges spurred by population growth and expanding land use.

Edwin Mwangi, a Private Sector Specialist with the Bank, reiterated the pivotal role of the private sector in spearheading 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, organized by Kenya’s Water Sector Trust Fund, which brought together stakeholders from diverse sectors. The Bank’s active portfolio in Kenya currently stands at $3.98 billion, with investments in critical infrastructure, including transportation, water and sanitation, and energy, constituting 74% of the total.

Source: African Development Bank

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