(Image not related to content, Jacob Zuma, http://www.ilpost.it/2012/01/07/i-cento-anni-dellafrican-national-congress/attachment/124828780/)
Although some African governments are actively cooperating with various international actors to combat water crisis in Africa, some African governments are ignoring the pertinent issue of increasing water accessibility and quality of water. Although the governments acknowledge that vast majority of people in Africa lack access to clean water, they fail to recognize the worsening quality of water and screen indifference to the impaired water resources in Africa and other international actors promoting water privatization.
Although water privatization is a contentious issue among many African governments, some welcome water privatization because of promised governmental subsidies and infrastructure development. Some give-in to the heavy lobbying by private water companies and the neo-liberal economic advices of the World Bank, IMF and various governments of core countries. For example, Guinean governments agreed to water privatization due to donor pressure. World Bank pressured the government to participate in water privatization project in turn of donor finances. Water privatization brought mixed result. Although it did contribute to increase in labor productivity and open job markets and increased water quality and consumer services, the water price increased rapidly and even made it difficult for the wealthy people to pay for water. Also the private sectors were less complaint with the regulations, even charging double the agreed rate, since its main goal is to make profit.
Local African Community
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Impact of the water privatization impacts the local communities the hardest. Making people pay for associated cost of water infrastructure leads to rocketing water price for the locals. In South Africa, with the water privatization with Suez, water service charges increased by 600 percent. Soaring price of water means even restricted access to water and large mass of African communities are responding with active resistance. Locals are joining and creating diverse resistant groups like APF (Anti-Privatization Forum) and trying to make a difference in many African water privatization projects.
For example, CAWP (Coalition Against Water Privatization in South Africa) is a community based and non-governmental organization actively advocating against water privatization in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The community members of Johannesburg challenged city’s decision to implement prepaid water meters. The organization succeeded in removing prepaid water meters and reconnecting to free water via legal actions and raising community awareness on importance of water access.
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With the rising demand for water, corporate interest is rising on African water resources. Although Africa continent have been struggling to gain control over their natural resources, most of their rich natural resources are under control of core countries and now many multinational companies are advocating water privatization. Advocates argue that water privatization is necessary to provide improved quality of water to public. They argue that public utilities, such as water services, are often poorly managed and result in higher water losses in the community.
Water is viewed as a natural resource that hold potential for profit. World Bank holds Senegal’s water privatization as a success story, which succeeded in promoting well-being of the people as well as generating profit. According to the statistics, water privatization brought huge improvements for the consumers in water quantity, access and price. It also was helpful to the Senegal governments; total gains were equivalent to $457 million, that is to say average annual gain after privatization was equivalent to one-half of total revenue in the year prior to privatization.