Water utilities in Africa: How will they cope with a rapidly growing, thirsty population?

Access to piped water increased in absolute number from 82 million urban dwellers with piped water in 2000 to 124 million in 2015, but the urban population served with piped water on the premises declined from 40 to 33 percent over the same period.
[1] The total population with improved sanitation services increased, and many countries in the region were able to meet their MDG goals, but most of that increase came from an increase in the access to piped water off premises and self-supply.
Only 30 percent of Africans have access to improved wastewater services, and more than 23 percent are practicing open defecation (Ibid.).
In addition, a vast majority of the African utilities do not provide wastewater services, and some that did in 2000-2006 dropped wastewater collection services due to high costs and technical difficulties.
Their performance showed some improvements between 2010 and 2013.
Access to sewer services is in its infancy in Africa — with very few utilities providing such services.
We used several measures of utility performance (looking at financial performance, operational performance and customer performance) and in general, we found that utilities are performing below global benchmarks.
Performance is also dependent on cost.
We found that the O&M costs of water services between 2010 and 2013 have been accompanied by an increase in the affordability of water services.
In the case of the World Bank, that will mean more attention to the efficiency of water sector investments, and the incentive structures in place that may affect utility performance.

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