"The Challenges in Africa should be solved by African ideas!" Water Leaders gathered in Johannesburg towards growing water utilities


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Event: Second Executive Forum for Enhancing Sustainability of Urban Water Services in Sub - Saharan Africa
Date: Wednesday, March 7 - Friday, March 9, 2023
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Main Participants

A total of 100 people, including 27 executives from 17 utilities in 11 sub-Saharan African countries, Japanese experts in Africa and Water Resources Group, Global Environment Department, JICA

Group photo of executives from 17 utilities in 11 countries

Group photo of executives from 17 utilities in 11 countries

Background and Objectives

From March 7 to 9, 2023, the 2nd Executive Forum for Enhancing Sustainability of Urban Water Services in Sub-Saharan Africa (hereinafter referred to as "Forum") was held under the theme of "Utility Management for Sustainable Water Supply Services," with a total of 100 participants including 27 executives from 17 utilities in 11 countries gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Water Resources Group of the Global Environment Department of JICA regularly holds "Executive Forum" in Asia and Africa as one of the platform activities for leaders of water utilities in developing countries to learn from each other from the same perspective, transcending national boundaries and positions. After holding the first forum in Rwanda in 2019 and then the COVID19 spreading, this second forum was finally held .


■“Each one, Teach one” - Connecting and learning together to achieve better water utility management -

On the first day, JICA gave keynote speeches on "1) Approaches and results of the growth spiral in the 'the Cluster Strategy for Supporting the Growth of Water Utility", "2) Case studies on management improvement in Cambodia and prepaid meters installation in Palestine," and "3) Cross-national learning related to JICA Projects. Next, Ms. Gisele, Acting CEO of the Water and Sanitation Corporation of Rwanda (WASAC), gave a presentation on the significance of the Forum as the first host country. WASAC had taken the opportunity of hosting the forum to develop cooperation partnership with other utilities. Both speeches and presentations raised expectations for the Forum, especially for first-time participants. Thereafter, five utilities presented good practices, in particular, the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) of Uganda's efforts in strategic human resource development, including the introduction of systems and incentives to improve staff capacity, and Embu Water and Sanitation Ltd. of Kenya's efforts in utilizing funding mechanism; the use of two blended finance schemes (Output Based Aid [OBA] and Aid on Delivery [AOD]). The participants showed a high level of interest, with a rush of requests for individual discussions and visits to learn more about the practices.

The second day was divided into three sub-themes groups: 1)Improvement of Water Supply Service, and Financing for Infrastructure Development, 2) Human Resources Development by utility, and 3) Management Strategy of Water Supply Utility, and group discussions were held on the challenges faced by each utility, their initiatives, and solutions. In the afternoon of the same day, the participants toured the water supply facilities of Johannesburg Water, the host city, and visited the installation site of prepaid meters.
On the final day, each utility summarized the Key Takeaways (K/Ts) that they had gained through the forum, initiatives they would like to refer to, and items on which they would like to exchange opinions and information with other water utilities in the future, and each gave a presentation. In the summary session that followed, representatives of the participants gave their impressions of the forum, including "The forum was an opportunity to strengthen my mindset and insight," "We need healthy competition like this forum," "It is important to teach and learn from each other (Each one, teach one)," "Continued good practice sharing is important and we look forward to follow-up in the future”. Participants also expressed their expectations for the 3rd Forum.

■For the future

The Executive Forum was not only an opportunity for the participating utilities to learn from each other and to build and promote networking, but also for JICA to build relationship with utilities as valuable partners. Water leaders in Africa are full of commitment and challenging spirits. Although the forum is over, how the lessons learned by the participants will be put into practice at each utility and how the network established at the forum will be utilized will be the key to the future. Based on this, follow-up activities will be conducted over the next year to monitor the improvement of performance of each utility by utilizing the lessons learned in the forum, and to promote networking. How exciting it would be if this forum and JICA’s platform activities could encourage African water leaders initiatives.

Various opinions were exchanged during coffee breaks.

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