Partnerships for improving water utility management in Africa

2012-06-29T13:11:13Z (GMT) by Josses Mugabi Sam Kayaga Cyrus Njiru
Urban water utilities in developing countries face enormous challenges in meeting the water needs of growing urban populations. Many of the challenges stem from poor utility management practices and the lack of a commercially oriented culture. For many years the debate on how to address this problem has been dominated by two extremes. On the one hand, private sector participation (PSP) has had only limited success. On the other, public management reform, which urges the creation of incentives for public utilities to become more efficient and commercially oriented, has not yet taken hold due to the slow pace of institutional reforms in developing countries. Given this situation, major players in the sector are seeking alternative approaches to improving utility management and performance in developing countries. Such alternative approaches include innovative multi-sector partnerships between private, public and civil society. This paper discusses a partnering approach (pioneered by the Water Utility Partnership (WUP) of Africa) between Loughborough University, Severn Trent Water, six African water utilities and utility management consultants. The aim of the partnership is to increase the management capacity of utility companies in order to improve the performance of water utilities in Africa. This innovative model has implications for policy and practice in this field.