His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, calls for urgent measures to address the ‘water crisis’ in the region

On 29 November 2019, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, officially took over the Chairmanship of Global Water Partnership Southern Africa and Africa Coordination Unit (GWPSA-ACU).

During the official handover ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, President Kikwete welcomed the mandate from the GWP Partners and stressed the importance of developing and implementing water programmes to address urgent challenges countries in Africa and the SADC region are facing.

‘What we are facing now is a crisis and we must act immediately otherwise there will be no water to govern’, he said. His Excellency bemoaned the low water levels in the Zambezi River, that has resulted in acute energy shortages and load shedding across Zambia and Zimbabwe.

‘We used to think that water will always be there, but from what we are seeing in the Zambezi River Basin, this is no longer a guarantee. We see similar challenges in other places like Lake Chad and the Lesotho Highlands. The water levels in Lake Tanganyika are declining in part due to inadequate flow regulation of water from Lake Tanganyika to the Congo River. This calls for regional cooperation of shared waters’, said President Kikwete.

His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete delivering his remarks as the New GWPSA-CU Chair

Handing over the GWP regional Chairmanship, GWPSA-ACU outgoing Chair Dr. Kuiri F. Tjipangandjara stressed that the water challenges are becoming more frequent and severe. He mentioned that the SADC region and African continent are experiencing severe droughts, exceptionally high temperatures, and delayed rainfall. He added that the SADC region is yet to recover from the destruction of Cyclone Idai. ‘Water infrastructure across the region is giving in because of the heavy weight of age, poor design and maintenance practices. Sadly, the private sector is reluctant to invest in the water sector, allegedly because of the associated high risks and low returns. The costs of infrastructure development, operations and maintenance are on the increase, and despite the policy of regional economic integration, there is very little sharing of natural resources and inadequate cooperation amongst the riparian states’, said Dr Tjipangandjara.

Outgoing GWPSA-ACU Chair, Dr. Kuiri F. Tjipangandjara delivers his farewell remarks

Dr Tjipangandjara mentioned that despite these challenges, solutions are possible and GWP is equal to the task as a strong foundation has been put in place.

‘Mr. President, we were able to lay the foundation for the African “Water Investment Programme (AIP) 1– an initiative that was, in February 2019, endorsed by the African Union through the African Minsters Council on Water. AIP’s aim is to mobilise water investments in the development of water infrastructure across the continent’, he added. ‘To accelerate the development of water investment projects, GWP is working closely with the SADC Secretariat and has signed strategic partnership arrangements with the African Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the partnership continues to work closely with key partners such as AMCOW, African Development Bank(AfDB), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), River Basin Organisations and national water ministries and agencies’.

Welcoming His Excellency President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, as the new regional Chair, GWP Regional Executive Secretary and Head of GWP Africa Coordination, Mr Alex Simalabwi mentioned that GWP partners are looking forward to President Kikwete’s vast and high level political, diplomatic and international leadership and experience to lead the transformation required to ensure that accelerated water investments are put in place to close the water infrastructure gap and support national development and economic growth and job creation. ‘The water infrastructure gap is about $34 Billion per year excluding operation and maintenance and this gap is growing’, said Mr. Simalabwi.

GWP Regional Executive Secretary and Head of GWP Africa Coordination Unit, Mr Alex Simalabwi, welcomes His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to the GWPSA Board

President Kikwete is taking over as GWP regional Chair at an opportune time- when GWP is entering a new strategy period that will be implemented from January 2020 – December 2025. The new GWP Strategy 2020-2025, 2“Mobilising for a Water Secure World”, is one of urgency, reflecting the gravity and extent of current and expected water crises. The Strategy commits GWP and partners to bringing attention and coordinated action to water challenges in over 60 countries and 20 transboundary basins by mobilising over $10 billion in water investments.

President Kikwete thanked GWP Partners for the progress made so far in advancing the regional water agenda. ‘Thank you for bringing the organisation to this level, I hope to take GWP in the region to greater heights, building on your foundation’, he said.

New GWPSA-ACU Chair (6th from the left) accompanied by representatives from the GWPSA – ACU Board, including the outgoing Chair, GWP Staff and former Tanzanian Permanent Secretary for Water

For more photos from this event, please click here
For more information about His Excellency’s election, please click here