Safe Water Network convened its fifth Ghana “Beyond the Pipe” Forum in Accra on March 15, 2017. The objective of this “Beyond the Pipe” was to make the financial case for the scaling up of small water enterprises as a vital component in addressing the 8.2 million Ghanaians (or 30 percent of the country’s population) who lack access to safe, affordable, reliable water. The participants included thought leaders from the water sector including government, regulators, development partners, foundations, NGOs and the private sector. Recommendations provided during the event build on more than seven years of experience working in cooperation with communities and sector leaders in Ghana.
The event featured an update on two financing solutions introduced at the 2016 “Beyond the Pipe” Forum: the Ghana Water Enterprise Trust and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Pilot Project. The Ghana Water Enterprise Trust update was given by the Safe Water Network-coordinated Finance Group, and was accompanied by a document that captures current thinking on the structure of the Trust. Similarly, the PPP Pilot Project update was delivered by the PPP Working Group, who distributed a corresponding document.
The event’s keynote speaker was the Honorable Joseph Kofi Adda, Ghana’s Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources. In his address, Adda emphasized that collaboration is essential to meeting significant challenges and serving those in need, and acknowledged the role for small water enterprises. He also spoke of making the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 (achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all) one of the goals of his Ministry.
Speaking about the work that is required to make small water enterprises part of the solution, the Minister said, “I am convinced that with the working groups that have been formed—the Finance Working Group to develop a Trust or Fund that can attract capital to the sector, and the PPP Working Group to structure a sustainable model for attracting private sector investment—we will move closer to addressing the significant need for safe water solutions in our country. I look forward to hearing the results of your discussions on financing and partnerships—and to working together with all of you to achieve our shared objectives.”
Charles Nimako, Safe Water Network’s Director of Africa Initiatives, underscored the objective of the forum: to establish a roadmap to scale up small water enterprises, complementing government plans and working in collaboration with funding agencies and other implementers. Describing what is achievable if government, development agencies, and private investors work together, he presented a vision of “bending the curve” from business-as-usual to enable the sector to scale up small water enterprises to serve 1,000 communities (or 3.2 million people) by 2030. This would address a large part of the gap in water provision for peri-urban and small towns—on a sustainable basis.
Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer of International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, emphasized that, despite marked progress, there remains a significant need in Ghana for safe water access. He highlighted the Foundation’s long-term commitment to Ghana, and shared the organization’s reasoning behind supporting small water enterprises as a proven solution.
Contributing to the discussion was Janet Arthur, Policy Officer for Water and Sanitation at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She described the Netherland Government’s support to Ghana in achieving targets of universal water coverage by 2025, and suggested how the private sector and other sector stakeholders can create a policy environment that will support the expansion of small water enterprises to attract capital from investors and the private sector.
Sponsors of this event included: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Stone Family Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, Osprey Foundation, VITOL Foundation, the Waterloo Foundation, the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation Inc., Ecobank, Jual Group Ghana Ltd, Norsen Company Ltd, and JOISSAM GHANA LTD.