Published on: 19/10/2022
I thank you for the invitation to join you, as Special Guest of Honour, to formally open the “All System Go Africa” Symposium. This Symposium has been organised as a platform for our African Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Experts to brainstorm on the best way to make the WASH Sector on the Continent more responsive to the needs of the populace.
I welcome you all to Ghana to participate in this important Symposium. The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, sends his regards to you all.
I wish to take the opportunity to commend the Hon. Minister and the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, the leadership of IRC and UNICEF for successfully organising this event, which happens to be the first in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this programme is as a result of the impact made and the feedback offered by the African Experts and Leaders, who participated in the 2019 “All Systems Go” Symposium in The Hague, Netherlands, with a focus on “Systems Approach” to dealing with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, which had Ghana’s Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources duly represented by the Sector Minister.
In fact, I am reliably informed that the experiences and feedback shared by the African participants provided adequate justification for a strong demand to hold a follow-up event in Africa to focus on the Continent’s WASH challenges.
The conception and organisation of the programme is specifically designed to seek tailor-made strategies capable of delivering solutions to address the bottlenecks in the WASH Sector on the African Continent; this, for me, clearly provides an ample testimony that our African WASH Experts are alive to their responsibilities and are poised to offer hope to our people. This will spur Africa on to achieve the SDG 6 by the year 2030.
The Symposium is occurring at a crucial time in our development when the population of Africa keeps rising, with its attendant high demand for WASH-related services, knowing that the provision of such services has not kept pace with the increasing population.
There is, therefore, the urgent need for action to strengthen the African WASH planning and capabilities so as to strengthen the sector for effective service delivery to the growing population. It is against this background that I consider the theme chosen for the occasion, which is - “Uniting Systems Thinking with Technical Expertise and Public Policy to Accelerate the Vision of Universal Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” very appropriate.
This is an urgent call to our Leaders and WASH Experts to deepen their collaboration to address issues in the Sector.
Incorporating “Systems Thinking” and technical expertise with public policy, as the theme suggests, promises to hold the key to the positive way forward in seeking a lasting solution to the challenges in the WASH Sector. There is the need to continue to improve the traditional approach adopted in the past so as to yield better results.
It is also imperative, as a Continent, to tap into the unique experiences, skills and stock of knowledge of our Experts to help chart a new course for improved WASH service delivery.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is on record that, out of the over half a billion people living without adequate supply of water globally, a significant proportion is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, this was among the fundamental forces that drove African Leaders to commit to a bold vision, “that everyone on the Continent will have access to safe water by 2025”.
However, the story has not changed much, as it is estimated that over 95 million Africans, today, lack access to safely managed water and a further 504 million live without safe sanitation services.
It must be emphasized that, African Governments have, however, demonstrated a strong leadership in resource allocation to the WASH Sector, but unfortunately, progress seems slow, as this has not matched population growth.
Indeed, with the current slow rate of progress, as it has been already stated, some countries in Africa are not only likely to miss the 2025 WASH targets but might also fail to attain the global target set for the year 2030. This means that, millions of families, including children, risk being left without critical life-saving water and sanitation services; hence the need to intensify our efforts to provide more WASH infrastructure.
We also acknowledge that the issue for more funding in the WASH Sector will remain a major challenge to the Continent, especially during this period when the world is faced with the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and the Russia/Ukraine war.
This assertion is reinforced by estimates from the African Development Bank suggesting that, currently, the African Continent requires between $87 billion and $112 billion, additionally, to finance the execution of WASH infrastructure annually.
With this, we, the Leaders and Experts of the Continent, are left with no other option than to seek innovative ways by which the WASH Sector would be better positioned to effectively address the needs of our people.
In my opinion, the 3-day Symposium presents a unique opportunity for Stakeholders to engage in a dispassionate, honest and apolitical discussion to bring out the best strategies which will be implemented to achieve the ambitious WASH targets set by Governments across the African Continent.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me assure you that, as the Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), His Excellency the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has demonstrated adequate commitment to ensuring that Ghana meets the 2030 Agenda for the SDGs, with equal emphasis on SDG 6, within the stipulated time.
This is reflected in the many projects being undertaken in the WASH Sector, some of which are already completed and commissioned, whilst processes are ongoing for the others. Some of the projects are:
Upper East Water Supply Project
Yendi Water Supply project
Tamale Water Supply Project
Damongo Water Supply Project
Wenchi Water Supply Project
Sunyani Water Supply Project
Keta Water Supply Project
Sekondi-Takoradi Water Supply Project,
Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA)/ Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area Water and Sanitation Project – Additional Financing.
The interventions in the water sub-sector are expected to result in additional 4.3 million beneficiaries having access to potable water.
According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census of Ghana on water and sanitation coordinated by the Ghana Statistical Service, the number of households that currently have access to toilet facilities has increased from 33 % to 59.3%. With respect to water, the percentage of households with access to basic drinking water has seen a significant improvement from 79 % in 2018 to 87.7 % in 2021.
These improvements have resulted in significant gains, with not a single case of cholera recorded over the past 5 years.
Here, it is worth noting that Ghana’s achievement has been possible, for instance in the sanitation space, because of the Government’s decision to continue to encourage the Public-Private Partnership option in the execution of socio-economic infrastructure.
Clearly, this attests to the recognition by Government that, no meaningful progress in Ghana’s march towards socio-economic transformation can be made without the collaboration with the private sector.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate Government’s resolve and assurance to continue creating the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and grow from strength to strength.
Indeed, the Government of Ghana shares in the belief that, adopting the “Systems Approach” has the potential to improve WASH service delivery, and culminate in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal Six (SDG) 6.
At this point, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to acknowledge the continued interventions of our Development Partners, without which Africa could not have recorded the level of achievements seen today in the WASH Sector.
They have really been the support behind our successes, and we would always remain grateful. Our foreign participants are most welcome to enjoy our proverbial Ghanaian hospitality, food, music and clothing.
Once again, I commend the Organisers of the Symposium and look forward to the outcome that would complement the African and the Africa Water Week to feed into the “All Systems Connect” scheduled for May 2023, in The Netherlands.
On this note, I declare the “All Systems Go Africa” Symposium duly opened and wish you all fruitful deliberations.
I thank you for your attention. God bless us all.