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Water and sanitation “Innovation is in the business model, more than in technology”

It is estimated that between 50 and 60 billion dollars a year is needed by 2025 to ensure access to good water for all people in Africa. Funds that are difficult to mobilize … unless we adopt an approach that includes all the players involved. Including local people. This is at least the point of view shared by the participants of the meeting organized by the Cade on February 11th  in Paris that addressed the issue of new models of public-private partnership in the sector.

By DBM

“We have already addressed the issue of water in 2015, especially with the publication of the book Africa and Water, but rather from a geopolitical and public policy angle. Today, we wanted to go further. Because there are still territories where people do not have access to water. What’s the problem ? “Calls Roland Portella, President of CADE (Africa Coordination of Tomorrow). Moderator of the conference, the journalist Alain Foka extends the question and asks the terms of the debate. “Like 80% of Africans, I experienced the problem of water, this rare commodity. I come from a region, Cameroon where water is a real issue. I want, coming out of here, to have answers. How to give access to drinking water to the greatest number? 80% of our diseases come from this lack of sanitation? How to finance this emergency in light of the difficulties faced by States? What are the innovative models in that, 60 years of independence, it still does not work … “

“We need coordination of all actors to bring a lasting solution”

Even though, “a lot of progress has been made, provides, figures in support, Arthur Minsat, head of the Europe-Africa-Middle East Unit, development center of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)). However, with great disparities within the regions. The African continent is the fastest urbanizing in the world, 15 to 40% in less than fifty years. This has made it possible to have access to water, particularly in North Africa. To reach 100% access to water, it will be necessary to mobilize 50 to 60 billion dollars per year by 2025. “

An emergency for today, for tomorrow even more when the African population will double as emphasized by Diane Binder, Vice President of International Development Africa and Indian Ocean, Suez Group. “80% of this population growth will take place in cities, and then the issue of access to basic services, especially water and sanitation, will become more acute. Who can do it? This is both a simple and complicated question: It requires coordination of all actors to bring a lasting solution. It is at the same time the responsibility of the States, the operators, public and private, the citizens in their consumptions, the industrialists … All these actors, whose interests are not always aligned, one must manage to make them work together for the common good. Innovation really lies in the approach, in the business model, more than in technology. “

“Civil societies have risen in recent years with a demand for accountability”

Still, recent examples (see the Veolia case against Seeg in Gabon) reveal the divergences between the three main components of this virtuous pact, namely the multinationals; public officials and populations. The latter, and this is one of the major innovations, has come to grips with this question. “Civil societies have risen in recent years manifesting a demand for accountability to the public authorities, says Jean Bosco Bazie, CEO of  Eau Vive and International, author of Africa and water. According to him, NGOs also have their place in these “innovative PPP models”. “Flowing Water is a network of organizations, active for 40 years in Sahelian zone. We mobilize different actors, and the financial means, to advance the sector.  we are delighted that in the last 20 years, as it has grown, the issue is starting to emerge from the ghetto and attracting more actors. Because the state, as powerful as it can not do everything. The role of NGOs has evolved, each in its place, there is so much to do. Too often the question has been approached from an ideological point of view, through this idea of ​​privatization, which has skewed the debate, particularly because of the opacity in which the contracts were negotiated, hence the fantasies and controversy. “

“You have to find a good balance, not for the service to be profitable, but for it to work. “

A point of view today widely shared: it is no longer a question of privatization … but of “equation”. Including by multinationals. At least according to Diane Binder. “50 to 60 billion dollars a year by 2025 are needed to meet the needs of drinking water and sanitation. It’s a colossal sum. How to mobilize the funds? What we often see are funders who finance the projects but are not interested in their implementation. However, the equation is simple: you have to find a good balance not for the service to be profitable but for it to work. In addition, to cite an example of “inclusiveness”. “In Mozambique, you had a slew of small private operators. If the SAUR, arrived in the 2000s, had not taken the reality of the situation and these private operators, it would have planted. Today, these operators have been integrated through franchises. “

“The key word is the inclusiveness of all partners,” says Arthur Minsat. Women, local populations, foundations, donors, governments … The solutions that have already been tried can be useful. And to cite examples of decentralization in Tunisia or Ghana; contract management in Tripoli; co-production in shantytowns in South Africa … “We can also have localized solutions, as in Angola, treasury bills have been issued to better manage this manna and guide it to local needs through the creation of the common fund sanitation. “

Governance, finance and knowledge, the 3 pillars of these innovative models

“Today, it is normal to pay to recharge your phone. For water, it is not easy to accept because we still have the idea that it is good for God, which must be free. When, as a result of catching up, we began to charge for water, which was not billed for the value of the service, we were treated to huge demonstrations in countries like Egypt. Issues related to governance but especially to financial balance, “laments Hachmi Kennou, Honorary Governor, World Water Council, Executive Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Water. And to conclude: “The 3 pillars of these innovative models are: governance, finance and knowledge. “