Bank backs Zambian water, sanitation investments plan

Out-Law News | 11 Sep 2017 | 9:56 am | 1 min. read

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is backing plans by Zambia’s government to invest more than $150 million in a major overhaul of water and sanitation infrastructure in the country.

The AfDB is providing 80 percent of funding in the form of loans and contributions for the project in four districts under the ‘Integrated Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Program (ISTWSSP), Zambia’s finance ministry has confirmed.

According to the ministry, a further $15m in co-financing will come from the China-backed Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF). The ministry said Zambia’s government will provide additional “counterpart funding”.

The four-year ISTWSSP programme “aims to increase sustainable access to quality water supply and sanitation services in the four districts, by efficiently managing and operating the utilities on a commercial basis”, the finance ministry said.

Finance minister Felix Mutati has signed a related on-lending and grant agreement of $42.2m with the country’s Western Water and Sewerage Company for the work in the Mongu, Sesheke, Senanga and Kaoma districts of Zambia’s Western Province.

Mutati said the work is needed to “resolve the water and sanitation challenges faced by citizens and residents in towns currently experiencing rapid growth, in order to speed up the country-wide economic transformation, industrialisation, growth and jobs creation”.

Up to one million residents living across the districts will benefit from the programme, Mutati said. Existing water and sanitation infrastructure in the targeted districts “will be rehabilitated and expanded” to support daily needs of the population and “grow industries to create a favourable environment for economic stabilisation”.

The ISTWSSP programme will include “building the capacity of water utilities, regulators, and training communities” to create “economic opportunities for women and youths”, Mutati said.

Since 1971, the AfDB has committed more than $1 billion to Zambia by mainly supporting public sector infrastructure projects in sectors such as agriculture, industry, water and sanitation, energy, education, health and transport.

Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, has said his government has prioritised infrastructure development because it is “necessary for the level of development we envision”.

China is a key investment partner in terms of infrastructure in Zambia – and China’s ambassador to the country, Yang Youming, has signalled his government is ready to do more.

In 2014, the AfDB and the People’s Bank of China entered into a $2bn co-financing agreement for the AGTF, which was set up to provide resources over a 10-year period – to be used alongside the AfDB’s own funds to finance certain sovereign and non-sovereign guaranteed development projects in Africa.

Earlier this year, works were commissioned to build a new Chinese-backed international airport in Zambia's Ndola city. The $397m project, is being undertaken by Chinese contractor AVIC International and funded by the Export and Import Bank of China.