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Huge Potential for the Private Sector to Invest in Africa’s Water Sector

According to the World Bank, one in three people face water scarcity in Africa and “bold action” must be taken to address the water crisis. Along with addressing water shortages in drought and climate disaster areas, this also includes rolling out a higher standard of water access in cities. The role of private businesses in the supply of water is controversial throughout the world. Critics contend that private sector involvement can lead to higher tariffs, the emergence of monopolies and the enrichment of companies at the expense of the public good. Anti-privatisation movements have argued that public provision is the most adequate model for the realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation. In extreme cases, up to 90% of the water supply can be lost in some African metropolises. This makes it much harder for the private sector to turn a profit and creates a huge barrier to investment. According to data collected by the World Bank and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) there were only 51 public private partnerships (PPPs) in the water and sewage sector between 1992 and 2012 in Africa.