Christabel Ligami

Rapid population growth, urbanization and poor water resource management are threatening access to clean water in Africa, according to a report on the 2023 Africa Sustainable Development by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The report was presented at the High-level panel: From Africa to the 2023 high-level political forum on sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals Summit – priorities to address multiple crises and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, at the ongoing Ninth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-9)  in Niamey, Niger.

“Increasing global efforts are required to ensure sustainable and fair distribution to all,” said Adam Elhiraika, ECA Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division.

“Harnessing digital technologies and promoting free and fair competition will be key to revitalizing African economies by stimulating innovation, economic growth and job creation and enhancing greater connectivity.”

The report says that only 30% of Sub-Saharan Africa used safely managed drinking water sources compared to the world average of 74%. Access to safely managed sanitation was only 21% in Sub Sahara Africa compared to the world average of 54%.

The ECA Director said the negative trend in water stress levels must be reversed particularly in North Africa where water stress levels reached 120.5% in 2019.

“It is crucial to appropriately manage competing demands for water resources and enhance water use efficiency such as through reuse and recycling and ecosystem protection,” noted Elhiraika.

In 2020, he said the Official Development Assistance (ODA) for water and sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa dropped below the 2015 level of $ 2.5 billion.

On affordable clean energy, the report says access to modern and renewable sources of energy is fundamental to achieving sustainable human development. Progress on access to electricity-generating capacity per capita must be accelerated.

Electricity access in Africa is on the rise and there is a large potential for increased production, yet over half of the population lacks access to electricity.

Progress is uneven. Algeria, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, Seychelles, and Tunisia achieved close to 100% access to electricity in 2020 but in at least 16 countries 60% or more lack access.

“Despite notable efforts to increase the use of renewable energy sources, the share of renewable energy in total energy consumption remained at 68.3% from 2013 to 2019 in Sub- Saharan Africa,” said Elhiraika.

“North Africa and South Africa are more reliant on nonrenewable energy consumption than other sub-regions.”

According to the report, no noteworthy progress has been made on industrialization. The potential of the manufacturing sector must be unleashed including ensuring access to electricity, facilitating credit and creating a climate that is conclusive to foreign direct investment (FDI).

FDI to Africa continues to lag behind other regions such as Asia and Latin America and Caribbean.

“African governments need to strengthen domestic resource mobilization including through private financing and sustainable public borrowing,” he said adding that more efforts are needed in strategic development cooperation particularly enhanced South – South cooperation and issuance of impact bonds,” he said.

On sustainable cities and communities, the report indicates that the proportion of the urban population living in slums in Africa has shown a slight decrease.

“Progress has been made in providing descent housing and moving people out of informal settlement,” says the report.

Progress towards reducing the number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters has shown improvement but remains below the target.

Increasing the scope of adoption and implementation of national disaste risk reduction strategies must also be accelerated.

Domestic revenue generation in Africa continues to lag behind other regions and is below the average for least developed countries.

The proportion of the domestic budget financed by domestic taxes improved in Africa, rising to 65.8% in 2019 compared to 61.9% in 2015.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have collectively fallen short of their targets of devoting 0.7 % of their gross national income to ODA.

Debt management has been challenging for African governments. Despite some notable progress achieved, ICT in Africa remains limited.