THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF AFWA
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I stand before you with great humility, as the first woman President of AfWA, succeeding an illustrious list of highly capable leaders of this organisation who have led it to greater heights to be a colossus it is today. The legacy of all past Presidents (Marcel Zadi Kessy, Fouad Mohamed Djerrari, François Ombanda, E.K. Y Dovlo, Geofroy Chekete, Tamama Roufaï, Abdoulaye Bouna Fall, Abdelaziz Mabrouk, and Mr Dia Mamadou is of historical significance and will have a lasting impact in relation to the nature and character of our organisation. On an occasion such as this, I would like to thank all the founders of AFWA and salute my predecessor Mr Dia Mamadou for carrying the baton with great care.
I would like to assure you, as members of AFWA that I commit to listen to you, and to do what you will be proud of to strengthen the good work that started 32 years ago.
AfWA, through your support, will continue from strength to strength. I would like to mention a few things, based on some members questions, meaning well and expressing value and sentiment for the success of AfWA: “what will your focus be as an incoming AfWA President? What are you going to change? . My question, what would you like us to do to as the new leadership? What changes do you want to see? What improvements are necessary as we direct the organisation to ensure that the vision of the founders is carried out with consideration of those who need Water? Quality water? We are listening, and as your New Leader, I am listening.
The responsibility is very big, but I have learnt that if you dream, your dream must be big and it must even scare you. So, let us all dream together, and wake up seeing AfWA taking the entire Continent.
Those dreams can be realised. Let us work together, as it is in unity that we can achieve, and our strength as the African people is being united.
We were gathered here to discharge our responsibilities as delegates from member countries and partners of our organisation and I trust that we have done so diligently and with aplomb, conscious of the historic obligations imposed on our organisation to lead not only the membership of AfWA, but the people within the entire African continent, whose hope is in our hands for the access to clean water.
We are available for suggestions from you and I am using this platform to make that announcement, please come forward, show us areas where we need to improve, direction to take, and how best to position our organisation to influence high level decisions and for AfWA to be internationally recognised.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
In everything we have done over the past few days we continued, in my observation, to demonstrate the understanding that characterises all members of our organisation that AfWA was established 32 years ago to serve the people of Africa. We were here on a mission! Remember, Africa has more than 60 trans-boundary river basins, almost half of which are shared by three or more countries, so we cannot work in isolation unless we want to beggar each other.
We have the opportunity to learn from other’s mistakes, such as the States in Australia, over allocating water from the Murray-Darling Basin with predictable dire consequences, but we also need to recognise the historical imbalances in the allocation of water in Africa, such as the division of the waters of the Nile by the British in 1929 and 1959, which completely ignored the rights of the people in the Upper Nile countries.
Our organisation will continue positioning itself as the most representative continental water and sanitation organisation. We have to build our system of international cooperation in a manner consistent not only with the Millennium Development goals but our domestic programmes to meet our objectives of:
- coordinating the search for knowledge and latest development in the technical, legal, administrative and economic fields for drinking water production, supply and of sanitation
- promoting the exchange of information on methods, processes and procedures of drinking water production and supply and sanitation
- Initiating, encouraging and promoting any action of cooperation and exchange in professional training.
Beyond this congress, as 2015 fast approaches, we need to intensify the international partnership for development and focus on accelerating the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals. It should be understood that if Africa fails to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, our collective vision and the international development partnership from which it is derived, would have failed.
Water is not just about meeting the basic needs for our people but for growth and development.
If we have to advance in Africa, Water is the catalyst for every aspect of development and it cuts across every area for sustainable development. But it must be properly managed, and you know better.
With a young and growing population, and demand for Africa’s minerals, Africa is judged by many from the globe, to be poised for rapid growth and water is essential for that growth.
Referring to the many challenges to making access to potable water and sanitation for all, a reality, including challenges such as climate change and energy crisis, the past President had this to say to say in Kampala on the occasion of the 15th afwa congress:
“Adapting to such a situation is a very strong demand and it is obvious that we will no longer be able to properly discharge our mission without taking into account this harsh reality and showing anticipation, innovation and audacity”.
In this regard, South Africa, has committed itself to continue putting pressure on developed countries to mobilise resources to support growth and development.
Talking about South Africa, I would like to pause for a moment and express my utmost gratitude, to Eminent Persons and friends who visited our country last month (January 2012) or watched the celebration on television as the African National Congress, ANC marked 100 years of its existence since it was formed in 1912, making it the oldest Liberation Movement in the continent.
As was recognised in Kampala, it is not just providing the infrastructure but providing a sustainable supply, to enable economic growth to happen. For this we need to recognise that tariffs must reflect the true economic cost of water and whilst the poor can be protected through a rising block tariff, such as we have in municipalities in South Africa, industries, corporations and rich consumers must pay the full amount.
With only two short years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we need a far greater sense of urgency if the targets are to be met.
Through MDG Eight(8), on the Global Partnership for Development, the Member States of the United Nations have recognised that, measures at country-level to achieve the MDG’s would be significantly enhanced by a global, collective effort, in working together. Therefore, we have to examine whether we have secure international cooperation with the lead institutional strategic partners in advancing Africa’s development priorities, water in this regard.
Our cooperation should also include key stakeholders in Africa. While we strengthen and build strategic cooperation, our task shall also be to create an inventory of various pledges and commitments already made by our partners at national, regional, continental and global levels in support of the implementation our programs and translate these pledges and commitments into tangible programmes of action.
Perhaps, we could look at establishing a mutual accountability framework to provide ongoing incentives to AfWA partners and ourselves to effectively deliver on our respective commitments and thereby accelerate the pace to achieve our objectives.
AfWA ORGANISATION AND PROGRAMMES
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have mentioned earlier that our cooperation should also include key stakeholders in Africa. To better position ourselves as the most representative continental water and sanitation organisation in Africa, AfWA should adhere to the framework for African economic integration, by strengthening inter-country trade and regional co-operation which are a key for building a stronger and more sustainable African economy.
I wish to recognise the new delegation from Nigeria that joined AfWA and were here attending our Congress for the very first time.
I was happy to meet these committed members, and indeed, i was pleased to meet some Women Leaders from this delegation, and that is noted singularly as we do not have many Women at Policy and |Decision making levels.
I would like to also recognise other new members and other Water Utilities that I may have not had a chance to meet in my personal capacity and interact with, as we did with Nigerian Representatives. You are warmly welcomed and indeed AfWA is for you and make contributions and be change you would like to see back in your own countries. It is possible.
My wish is to see AfWA serving not only as a confluence of common regional agendas in the promotion of access to water and decent sanitation, but as a vanguard movement for social transformation for a better life for all our people in the continent. Let us encourage all to join AFWA in advancing social programmes intended for:
- promoting joint water and sanitation development programmes in all fields of human existence and activity and the joint adoption of water and sanitation policies and programmes intended to raise the standard of living and health of African people and to foster cooperative relations among its members’ countries on this agenda;
- Members and partners to cooperate in the creation of an enabling environment for cross-border, foreign and domestic investment promotion of research and adaptation of science and technology for water and sanitation development programmes;
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the blueprint for the development of our continent, promotes regional economic integration by bridging Africa's Infrastructure gap including the infrastructure gap in water and sanitation.
The regional economic communities (RECs), namely AMU (Arab Maghreb Union); ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States); COMESA (Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa); SADC (14 countries-Southern African Development Community); IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development); and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) should be given a pivotal role in our work in order to ensure regional coherence in the planning and implementation of our activities.
I have been inspired by the speech made by the AMCOW Secretary General, Mr. Taal, about the Centers of Excellence, and my priority is to formalise and sign our MOU with AMCOW before our Minister Honourable Edna Molewa, who is the AMCOW President, before her term comes to an end this year.
This is one of the priorities I have put for myself. In this way our Uganda Academy will be well positioned with AMCOW’s support, and we will focus on making it internationally accredited and recognised. Well done AfWA, for all the great work.
In line with AfWA’s objectives, we shall be establishing and strengthening a network of national, sub-regional and regional water research and training institutions or centres for excellence for artisans, water and sanitation technicians. The task at hand is immense; there is therefore a dire need to build our capacity in terms of human resource and finances. The current level of resource availability at AfWA’s disposal is far too small, given the continental mandate we have. We must therefore raise funding for our programmes and deliberately appeal to private sector, grant funders and governments of our respective countries to purposely create budgets and allocate funds to AFWA‘s programmes of action. The WOP Programme is one of the most needed vehicles to deliver on this technical training initiative at hand, and your support for WOP will go a long way.
I hope the Congress delegates had an opportunity to discuss these matters that are of central importance to the very nature and survival of our organisation as truly a continental body and to make lasting decisions in this regard..such as what the President of IWA said, how we manage our water is more critical that believing that the water is scarce, i fully concur with such.
As we close this Congress, two years before the MDG’s deadline (2015) we can certainly do well to give practical meaning to what HE President Kwame Nkrumah said 47 years ago in his (Address to the National Assembly on 26 March 1965): "We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people. Let us grasp now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival. " The Talent is here in this room, today, and in 1965, we did not have so many resources, technology, new systems, cell phones, and approaches to what the HE President referred to, but he was indeed correct then and this applies and holds even more today. This was one of the best visionaries of our continent.
Ladies and gentlemen, I therefore want to salute you for robust discussions aimed at the formulation of innovative systems of Regional co-operation, capacity building and resource mobilisation and common programmes of action under the stewardship of AfWA.
This means that as we close this 16th Congress, we must be able to report to the citizen of our continent that we have taken all the necessary decisions focused on the “collaborative mechanisms and innovations for sustainable development of water and sanitation sector in Africa" and that we will succeed in making access to potable water and sanitation for all - a reality in our lifetime.
Thank you giving me an opportunity to take the baton to Lead AfWA as its President, for the faith in me, my capabilities and my passion, that is Water. It is a very big responsibility, but let me humbly assure you, AfWA will be taken care and all of us are equal to the task given to us, through the support of the industrious leadership and all of you, we will succeed.
A bit of my Kindergarten French, as my predecessor impressed that, it is important for me to make an effort to speak a bit of French, as he did make an effort to speak a bit of English, may I conclude by saying that:
"La femme porte de l’eau depuis la rivière et AfWa a décidé de mettre une femme Présidente pour guider cette organisation. Je vais aussi porter cette organisation afin qu’elle coule comme de l’eau et emmène le développement économique en Afrique".
Women carry Water from the Rivers and AfWA has decided to put a Women President to Lead a Successful Organisation in its history. I will Carry it and let it Flow as Water's Flow, to ensure that, ultimately, it Charters Economic Development in Africa.
Thanks to AfWA Secretariat for the job well done.Thank you for participating in our 16th Congress, and making contributions that will shape your own countries. May you travel safely.
I declare this 16th Congress closed.
I thank you!