USD 35-billion per year is needed to tackle Africa’s water crisis; South African firm Khato Civils announces African expansion and calls for AfCFTA to be the catalyst to build Africa’s water infrastructure.
The United Nations warns that the world could face a 40 per cent shortfall in water supply by 2030, with Africa – which already suffers from greater levels of water stress than other regions – likely to bear the brunt.
The economic impact of the shortfall in water infrastructure and supply is already severe. Sub-Saharan Africa currently loses an estimated 5 per cent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) due to poor access to clean drinking water and sanitation, 5 to 25 per cent of its GDP to droughts and floods in affected countries, and 40 billion hours of otherwise productive time annually, collecting water.
Having delivered on sustainable water supply projects in the SADC region, South African-based construction and engineering firm, Khato Civils, has announced its intention to expand across the continent and play its part in tackling Africa’s infrastructure shortfall.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area, came into effect in January 2021. It is expected to increase levels of intra-Africa trade by over 50 per cent by 2030 and offers the opportunity for increased Pan-African collaboration in major infrastructure projects.
In an interview with AfricaLive.net Khato Civils Chairman Simbi Phiri put forward an ambitious vision for African development facilitated by infrastructure development. “Problems like food shortages are not occasioned by a lack of food on the continent necessarily, it’s about our underdeveloped land and waterways. If we can step up infrastructure development, we will solve a lot of other problems as well,” says Mr Phiri.
“AfCFTA gives us a chance to have a business without borders.
“We will now be able to go into places like Zimbabwe, Zambia and other countries to compete. It also gives us a chance to compete with multinationals from India and China in other African countries. The agreement will lay to rest some of the restrictions that were imposed by colonial legacies of the past.”
The Data: Africa’s Water Crisis In Numbers
As the world becomes more populous, increased urbanisation, climate change and changes in food production are driving water demand at a rate that outpaces supply.
* Globally, 80 per cent of wastewater goes back into the ecosystem without adequate treatment, resulting in 1.8 billion people worldwide drinking contaminated water.
* Over 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean drinking water and over 700 million live without access to good sanitation.
* The world faces a severe water shortage by 2030, and Africa is likely to bear the brunt – as exacerbated by the impact of climate change.
* Africa’s water sector has an annual investment shortfall of USD 13 billion (urban areas) to USD 27 billion (rural areas).
* African countries lose between 5 and 25 per cent of GDP due to issues related to lack of water infrastructure.
The Opportunity: Every 1 USD spent brings between 3 and 24 USD of economic benefits
For every USD 1 invested in water and sanitation, there are direct and indirect economic returns to individuals and households, the health sector, and agricultural and industrial sectors, ranging from USD 3 to 34, according to the World Health Organisation.
“If you look at big cities like Accra, their biggest issue is water and sanitation,” says Mr Phiri, “The same applies to other cities like Lagos and Kinshasa with power and roads coming a close second,”
“Water and sanitation is without a doubt the main area that will boom in Africa in the short-term future.”
In order to unleash these economic benefits, Khato Civils Chief Executive Officer Mongezi Mnyani calls on governments to accelerate infrastructure development and foster public-private partnerships. “Political will is at the centre of it all,” says Mr Mnyani.
“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.”
The Water Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa Requires an Annual Investment of USD 35 Billion
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.
The African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Wambui Gichuri, recently highlighted an annual investment requirement of USD 35 billion per year.
Ms Gichuri also stated that a UN assessment indicates finance gaps of between 39 per cent for urban water supply and 78 per cent for rural water supply.
Derisking Africa in the eyes of global capital is key to closing that funding gap. Mr Phiri believes indigenous African construction and engineering firms – previously often overlooked in favour of international firms – have a role to play in building investor confidence, saying “I believe it’s all about getting projects done on time, within budget, and with proper quality.
“People will trust you more if you have a track record of delivering what’s needed with allocated funds.
“Risk comes in when we have companies that do not do what’s required of them with borrowed funds. Once we develop professional and social proof based on the work done with borrowed funds, it will boost our credit rating and make it easier for us to access more capital.”
Khato Civils Impact On Infrastructure in Southern Africa
Khato Civils has been making a mark on water infrastructure across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region for decades, with Mr Phiri at the helm for about 11 years. “We took over the company in 2010 because we saw a niche area in South Africa,” he says. “Lots of South African companies were either being priced out of deals or running out of budget to complete certain projects. We also wanted to bring a special quality to the market in a way that exceeds what customers want and need.”
Also speaking in an interview with AfricaLive.net, CEO Mogezi Mnyani adds, “We may be based in Johannesburg, but we have offices in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ghana and South Sudan. We are looking to set up offices in other regions as well because our vision is to diversify into other markets and offer our products to countries that need them the most across the continent.”
With Khato Civils’ ongoing expansion and 85 per cent of their staff based in local sites, the company is poised to expand Sub-Saharan Africa’s water infrastructure and supply, thus improving climate resilience and mitigating food security risks, pending greater investments in water infrastructure. “It’s not just about business for us, we work to ensure we leave a legacy by changing the lives of communities,” says Mr Mnyani.
Botswana’s 100km Pipeline Project
The government of Botswana is implementing the North-South Carrier Project to address water shortages in its growing capital, Gaborone.
The Khato Civils/South Zambezi/Evolution Engineering JV is designing and constructing a Transmission Water Pipeline of approximately 100km from Masama Well fields to Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant in Gaborone, to convey 64Ml/day of borehole water abstracted from both Masama East and West Wellfields. The project started in May 2020 and Khato Civils is rallying to complete what would normally require 2.5 years in half the time, as per the client’s wishes, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joint Venture with South Zambezi: Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant in Botswana
In connection with the above-mentioned North-South Carrier Project in Botswana, Khato Civils is working in a joint venture with South Zambezi to increase the capacity of the Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant to handle increased water pipeline flows. The project entails designing, building and equipping all protection for the water treatment plant to function effectively, critically examining the maximum water flows and associated pressures, design calculations and drawings, amongst other activities.The plant will treat a maximum of 110 megalitres of raw water per day.
Khato Civils and South Zambezi have a long-standing business relationship. This joint venture serves as a clear example of the type of collaboration African engineering firms can form to deliver infrastructure projects ahead of schedule.
Lake Malawi Water Supply Project
The Lake Malawi project was conceptualised as a long-term and sustainable intervention to water problems that have been affecting the ever-growing population of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, for over a decade. Khato Civils won the USD 500 million water transfer project tender issued by the government of Malawi, beating six reputable companies from China, Portugal, South Africa, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Khato Civils is in a joint venture partnership with South Zambezi to extract water from Lake Malawi, clean and transport it to the Lilongwe Water Station, 124km away, before piping it to the city’s population. Khato Civils’ designs have been approved by the Malawi Water Board and the national government.
Shaping Africa’s Future With A Commitment to Green Building
The Khato Civils leadership also emphasises a commitment to sustainable engineering, construction and infrastructure development. “Our designs always have an element of green building in terms of energy savings, alternative sources of energy and local materials. We also research and look to bring in green technologies so that we ensure sustainability even as we build,” says Mr Mnyani.
Mr Phiri adds, “I believe our future in this industry, in relation to sustainability, will largely depend on solar energy. We want to be recognised in this space and we are moving ahead with sealing important partnerships with Canadian firms to get the right competencies. We see this as an emerging sector.”
Another of Khato Civils’ key service offerings is advice on cost-effectively executing projects from the design stage. “The importance of preliminary work before the execution stage is very important,” says Mr Mnyani. “We are resourceful enough and open enough for the use of various energy forms along the course of work. We have incorporated hydropower and even solar power, in the design, to ensure continuity at all times. We also believe in preserving natural sites, indigenous trees, graves and other important landmarks of countries.”
A Call For Transformative Partnerships
Khato Civils is now looking to both inspire a new generation of African engineers while accelerating its own development by forming new strategic partnerships.
“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,” says Mr Phiri.
“We look for competent like-minded partners and have found some in Kenya, USA, Italy, and other countries. The companies we work with have done business in far-flung areas, including Asia, and understand how to operate in sometimes unfavourable conditions.”
“We are open to partners that have a passion for changing the status quo, care about African development, and are not just interested in profitability.”
Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy
Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.
This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.
Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.
According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.
He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.
“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.
“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.
“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.
“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.
“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.
“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.
“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.
Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.
Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.
Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.
The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.
He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.
He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.
Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.
She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.
“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.
“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.
“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.
“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)
Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.
By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.
The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.
There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.
Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.
He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”
The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.
The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.
The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.
After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”
The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.
Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
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