UNESCO has urged investors to channel their funds toward harnessing Africa's hydro power potential to boost the continent's economy.
Prof. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, who is the Rector, UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, in Stockholm, on the sideline of the 2012 World Water Week Commemoration.
UNESCO-IHE was established in 2003 to carry out research, capacity building and education in the fields of water and infrastructure.
He said that if Africa's hydro power potential was adequately harnessed, it would generate adequate hydro power and create business opportunities for Africans.
"The business opportunity, which will be very important for the whole international community and for the investors, is to invest in the untapped hydro power potential of Africa.
"Africa's tremendous hydro power potentials are currently less than 7 per cent that is being utilised.
"So, Africa will need infrastructure that will generate hydro power, generates business opportunity and there is a whole chain reaction that goes on because you invest in big project, the big projects provide business opportunities, they provide work, they need more engineers, they need more technicians, so, the whole economy would get off.
"Nigeria, like other countries, need more capacities to deal with their own problems, so, they need to invest in capacity building in education programmes, training programmes at all levels from village level to government."
Szollosi-Nagy said that "water should be seen as a business opportunity and not a risk", adding that with the necessary investment in capacity building and training in the field, water business would yield profit.
He stressed the need for adequate training of personnel on management and maintenance of water facilities, citing Uganda as an example of a country faced with the problem of sewage leakages.
He, however, said the problem was resolved a few years back through in depth training of engineers on water education.
On climate change, the UNESCO-IHE Rector said Africans like other countries needed to double efforts toward the provision of adequate water storage facilities.
"In the aspect of variability and climate change, Africa needs to increase its resilient against the measures against effect of change in weather."
He also advised African countries to enhance their capacity to produce more food as part of efforts to combat hunger.
Commenting on the Sham el-Sheikh Water Declaration, the UNESCO rector noted that the success of the commitment would depend on political will by government.
"The implementation of the Sham el-Sheikh is in the hands of the government to check and re-check how the commitment they have made is being implemented, though it is a positive declaration but takes time to mature. "
Sham el-Sheikh is a declaration and commitment on water and sanitation adopted at the 11th African Union summit held in Sham el-Sheikh where the heads of state and government made a commitment to prioritise the issues of water and sanitation.