Roundup: Kenya plans to stimulate growth of water-based enterprises to bridge access gap

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NAIROBI, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Kenya will leverage capital, technology and manpower from industry and bilateral lenders to stimulate growth of water-based enterprises and expand access to the commodity, officials said on Wednesday.

Ismail Fahmy Shaiye, CEO of Water Sector Trust Fund said the government has prioritized financial sustainability of utilities in order to hasten realization of universal access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

"There is a policy and legislative framework in place to facilitate private sector financing to water companies, ensuring they are commercially viable and able to meet the goal of supplying the commodity to all citizens," said Shaiye.

He spoke at a virtual forum on investing in water enterprises in Kenya organized by Water Sector Trust Fund in partnership with social enterprise groups.

Shaiye said Kenya's water sector has attracted impact investments and concessional lending in the last two decades amid reforms that transformed governance.

He said that more than 40 African countries have relied on Kenyan model of water sector reforms and innovative financing in their quest to boost access to the commodity.

According to Shaiye, Kenya requires 14 billion shillings annually (about 128.2 million U.S. dollars) to attain the universal goal on access to safe drinking water by 2030.

Victor Ndiege, CEO of Kenya Climate Ventures, a Nairobi-based social enterprise, said that commercializing water supply services has gained traction in the country amid limited capacity of the public sector.

Ndiege said that blended financing in the water sector including credit guarantees, concessional lending from banks and tariffs have proved effective in sustaining operations of major utilities.

"We need to create an ecosystem where all value chain actors in the water sector can access financing. The private sector can finance the establishment of capital intensive water infrastructure like prepaid metering," he said.

Ndiege said that running water utilities as commercial enterprises is key to addressing governance hiccups, illegal connections, leakage and infrastructure gap that has derailed access to the commodity in fast growing cities and rural towns.

Grace Ndegwa, an investment expert at Kenya Innovative Finance Facility for Water said that utilities should come up with commercially viable projects to help sustain the supply of the commodity at the grassroots. Enditem

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