…Tasks AfCFTA, African governments on structural developments
The United Nations warns that the world is at a risk of 40 per cent shortfall in water supply by 2030, with the African continent which already suffers from greater levels of water related problems compared to other regions likely to bear the brunt.
The economic impact of the shortfall in water infrastructure and supply, according to an assessment by the international organisation, is already at a crucial stage with statistics showing that the Sub-Saharan African region currently loses about five to 25 per cent of its GDP to droughts, floods and lack of water infrastructure.
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Commenting on the report, Wambui Gichuri, the acting vice president for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, African Development Bank (AfDB) disclosed that Africa’s water sector has an annual investment shortfall of an estimated $13 billion in urban areas and $27 billion in rural areas and currently requires an annual investment of over $35 billion to bring a solution to the water debacle.
Gichuri also stressed that while poor governance, mismanagement of resources, and a lack of environmental research have exacerbated water supply issues, insufficient long-term investment in water infrastructure needed to manage water resources and provide water services remains a key challenge
Having established the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), reputed as the world’s largest free trade area which came into effect in January 2021, many economic analysts and indiginous companies are of the assertion that AfCFTA is not only capable of increasing levels of intra-Africa trade by over 50 per cent by 2030, but also, offering the opportunity for increased Pan-African collaboration in major infrastructure projects, including food sustainability and water control.
Based on this notion, Khato Civils, a South African-based construction and engineering firm, reputed for its sustainable water supply projects in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, has announced its intention to expand across the continent and play its part in tackling Africa’s infrastructure shortfall in the water system.
Simbi Phiri, while putting forward the company’s ambitious vision to tackle Africa’s water challenge noted that problems besieging the continent such as food and water shortages are not occasioned by a lack of food or water in the continent but as a result of underdeveloped lands and waterways.
He added that if the continent through the facilitation of AfCFTA can step up infrastructure development, it will be able to solve a lot of other problems as well without dependency on foreign aid and external interventions.
“If you look at big cities like Accra, their biggest issue is water and sanitation. The same applies to other cities like Lagos and Kinshasa. Water and sanitation is without a doubt the main area that will boom in Africa in the short-term future if the proper structural implementations are made and AfCFTA offers us a chance to do this without borders,” he said.
Dwelling on this, Mongezi Mnyani, chief executive officer of the company stated that in order to unleash the continent’s economic benefits, African governments need to accelerate infrastructure development and foster public-private partnerships.
“Infrastructure initiatives must be government-driven because that’s where the agenda is set and major decisions are made. Governments must work collaboratively and also develop strategies that entice the private sector so that firms like ours have an easier time carrying out projects.” he stressed
Phiri said the South African company is planning to inspire a new generation of African engineers while accelerating its own development by forming new strategic partnerships across the continent.
“Another big plus of the AfCFTA agreement is that fellow Africans will see an African-owned company like us that is well organised and accomplished and our success will rub off on them. Overall, the trade agreement provides a platform where trailblazing African companies can set the marker for the rest to emulate,” he noted.