Empowering Africa’s Water Future: Insights from the Africa Water Forum

I had the pleasure of being invited to participate as a panelist at this year’s Africa Water Forum, which took place in Rabat, Morocco in early October. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other water professionals who share the same ambition of helping Africa progress towards the UN’s SDG 6 targets (on water and sanitation).

We had fruitful discussions on a wide range of topics including how best to strengthen regional cooperation and partnerships to improve water security, using desalination to increase water availability, challenges related to wastewater and reuse, digital water solutions for enhanced water management, and private-public partnerships (PPPs).

While all these topics could easily warrant their own article, here are a few trends and takeaways from those discussions.

  • Successful transboundary water projects highlight the importance of strong legal frameworks and governance structures. These frameworks and structures are essential for promoting cooperation and ensuring access to clean drinking water, particularly during times of conflict.
  • Triangular cooperation is critical for strengthening water security. This includes South-South cooperation and partnerships with global development institutions. Triangular cooperation can provide access to financial resources, technical expertise, and best practices.
  • Legal and regulatory frameworks must evolve to accommodate desalination. Desalination is not a silver bullet for water scarcity, but it can be a valuable tool for increasing water supplies. Desalination is a relatively new technology in Africa, and many countries do not have the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks in place to support its development and deployment.
  • Abundant solar resources in Africa make solar desalination a promising option. Solar desalination is a sustainable and cost-effective way to produce fresh water in remote areas with high solar irradiation. Governments and investors should support the development and deployment of clean-powered desalination technologies to help meet Africa growing water needs.
  • Overcoming cultural barriers related to treated and reused wastewater is an important consideration. Pilot projects can be a great way to demonstrate that treated and reused wastewater is practical and secure. Let’s work together with local communities to develop and implement pilot projects that can showcase the benefits of utilizing reused water for irrigation.

Despite significant efforts, the water sector in Africa still has room for improvement in several areas to meet SDG6. Yet, I am confident that Africa and Africans are on the right track to make substantial progress towards achieving SDG6.