A shared approach is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Africa, according to the Africa Utility Leaders Forum 2016, which the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) hosted early this week at their premises.
The two-day forum brought together leaders of utility companies from all over Africa to discuss Africa's urgent priorities. The International Water Association, a global network of water professionals, has been at the forefront of promoting regional and international dialogues to find solutions to the most-pressing SDGs and issues surrounding water.
"As a global professional network, we must recognize that utilities delivering, sanitation and waste-water services have a key role in fulfilling the SDGs," Silver Mugisha, the managing director of NWSC and a board member of IWA, told the conference.
SDGs are an intergovernmental set of goals for United Nations members for the 2030 agenda. The forum centred on realizing the SDGs on water, sanitation and waste water services in Africa, the multiple water risks such as scarcity, floods, resource degradation and the risks of climate change. All these present a challenge to water security.
"I am sure every utility here knows that water is life and so, a secure water future requires investment in time, information and infrastructure to speed up pathways to water security," Dr Helmut Kroiss, the president of IWA, said.
Kroiss emphasized that economic growth in Africa will require knowledge-based institutions that are responsible for planning and development of water resources, land usage, and innovation in financial and infrastructure approaches to deliver SDGs.
"There must be mobilization for expertise in urban water security and empower the next generation to lead the Africa water agenda," Chris Heymans, a senior water and sanitation specialist at the World Bank, said.
"You can't talk about economic development when you don't have safe water; in Africa more people have mobile phones than toilets. We need to change this," said Sam Cheptoris, the minister of Water and Environment.
The conference themed 'Catalysing collaboration to accelerate achievement of SDGs in Africa' was the first to be held in Africa.