Annual conference 'ZAWAFE' in Lusaka, Zambia


by Project Manager Leo Meijer

The Zambian water sector has an annual conference called 'ZAWAFE'. This conference took place this year on 14 and 15 July (to coincide with the African Union Conference) in Lusaka. 4 staff members from Nkana Water Supply and Sanitation Company Limited presented progress in NRW reduction, digitalizing customer services, impact of the service interventions in Chipata and Mulenga compounds and the digital future for the water kiosk.

They had excellent presentations sharing results of activities conducted under WaterWorX phase 1. They did this on their own initiative and with minimal instruction from me, as project manager. It is very rewarding to see that the partnership is becoming a collaboration with the receiving utility in the drivers seat.

Zambia Water Investment Program (ZIP)
Incorporated to the 'normal' conference, there was a public announcement of the Zambian President on Saturday 16 July. President Hakainde Hichilema publicly announced the Zambia Water Investment Program. This program is rooted in initiatives of the African Union and supported by the partnership with the International High-Level Panel on Water Investments for Africa (with PM Mark Rutte as co-chair). The announcements took place with the physical presence of several Zambian government ministers, high level representatives of the African Union and a virtual contribution (recorded message) of the Dutch PM.

The investment program outlines the policy agenda of the Zambian Government for investments in Water Infrastructure until 2030 (UN SDGs). It outlines 5.75 Billion USD of investments in water infrastructure (hardware and skills development) for the next 8 years. The Zambian Government will fund 20% of this program from its budget. The remaining 80% has to come from committed ODA budget support and dedicated, additional programs (leaning heavy on climate funding).

The EU delegation in Zambia is, in line with this program, already developing its own 100 Million Euro program for investments in water and energy. 3 out of the 4 Zambian utility partners will participate in this program, which is expected to commence next year. VEI has asked the Netherlands Embassy to participate in this initiative as well so we can contribute/influence this program and substantiate a claim of 'indirect SDG6' for the WaterWorX phase 2 SDG6 count.

These various initiatives demonstrate serious, positive movement in the enabling environment for the Zambian water utilities. Of course, these initiatives are never perfect and there is a lot more work to be done. For the WWX project these initiates provide a good framework (and jumping of point) for future contributions and involvement in improving the investment outlook for Zambia. We now need to motivate the various donors and (development) banks to renew their commitment and programs in Zambia. And in the meanwhile, we will start developing master plans and investment proposals with the Zambian utility partners to capitalize on these positive developments.

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