Africa receives investment boost to develop water infrastructure
Metito Utilities Limited (MUL), a global investor and operator of water, wastewater, and alternative energy management solutions, and British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, announced the launch of their new company Africa Water Infrastructure Development “AWID”, a first-of-its-kind platform to develop climate-smart water projects at scale and to increase water security across Africa.
The official launch of AWID took place at the British Embassy in Cairo, and was hosted by the British Ambassador, Gareth Bayley; MD and Head of Africa for BII, Chris Chijiutomi and Metito MD, Rami Ghandour. The launch was attended by key business leaders in Egypt and from across Africa as well as leading government officials.
Water insecurity is a critical development challenge in Africa. Climate change is expected to reduce water availability and increase the extent of water scarcity, exacerbating existing water-related vulnerabilities caused by other socio-economic factors. Water quality deterioration is also a major threat among communities throughout Africa as most wastewater generated remains untreated. The significant gap in storage, supply, and access to clean water and sanitation services urgently calls for effective and efficient water management infrastructure.
Climate-induced changes in the water cycle is impacting the provision of water supply to health, economies and food, and increasing inequality of water access.2 COP27 recognised the interdependencies of the water-food-energy nexus, and the implications of climate change, calling for scaled-up investments in water solutions to mitigate, adapt, and increase resilience to the adverse effects of climate change in Africa.
The new platform, AWID, will finance water and wastewater management treatment plants as well as develop and construct world-class facilities that will help to increase access to sustainable, safe and reliable water with a clear focus on countries that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis.
AWID will demonstrate a viable commercial model for water infrastructure and provision in Africa, helping to mobilise long-term investment into the sector. Its investments will integrate green technologies and alternative energy components, which will help to reduce the environmental footprint of water infrastructure projects.
An operational bulk surface water treatment plant in Kigali-Rwanda forms the first asset under the new platform. The 40,000 cubic meters per day plant is currently providing over 25 per cent of the city’s potable water supply, meeting the needs of 500,000 domestic, commercial, and industrial consumers. The Kigali water treatment plant is a public-private partnership (PPP), which is the first of its type under this business model in sub-Saharan Africa (outside of South Africa).
Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister for Development and Africa said: “The climate emergency has made water insecurity a major development challenge in Africa. BII’s partnership with Metito to launch the AWID platform, signals the UK’s continuing commitment to increase development and climate partnerships and financing to help the most vulnerable people and countries impacted by climate change.”
Commenting on the new partnership, Rami Ghandour, Managing Director of Metito said: “As Africa undergoes rapid urbanisation, there is a pressing demand for water infrastructure. Such projects are particularly capital intensive. An increasing funding gap requires mobilising sustainable investments into the sector. Our partnership with BII will leverage our high-value engineering and use of innovative technologies with access to unrivalled financial resources and support.”
Chris Chijiutomi, MD and Head of Africa at BII added: “Our partnership with Metito is part of BII’s strategy to improve development outcomes by investing in water, sanitation and hygiene. AWID will demonstrate to other investors, governments and operators that private investment can deliver operationally efficient and high-impact water infrastructure projects at scale, that have the potential to drive transformative and sustainable impact in Africa.”
Commenting on the launch, Morgan Landy, Global Director for Infrastructure at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said: “Investing in water infrastructure is a strategic priority for IFC in Africa and we are working with the private sector to close the funding gap in this critical sector. As a long-standing Metito shareholder, IFC is proud to witness the launch of this new Africa-focused platform that will invest in climate-smart water projects, further promoting economic growth and building a more water-secure Africa.”
AWID will help to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Goals (SDG 3) on Good Health and Well-being, (SDG5) on Gender Equality, (SDG 6) on Clean Water and Sanitation and (SG13) on Climate Action.