From 20 to 25 November Nairobi hosted the annual Kenya Water Week (KWW). The KWW was organized for the ninth time. The Dutch water sector, including VEI, was well represented.
Almost 20 Dutch companies and projects shared a large booth in the Netherlands Pavilion in the exhibition tent. Together they drew a lot of attention from the public. Parallel to the exhibition was the conference themed ‘Aid to Trade in the Kenyan Water Sector’. Kenya’s economic development has led to the country now being qualified as a ‘middle income country’. As a consequence, international donors are pulling out of the water sector in the coming years, leaving a huge financing gap. This challenge was discussed in several forums on (financing) innovations, partnering opportunities, improved service delivery and enabling business environments.
On Thursday morning Marco Schouten, CEO of VEI, gave a keynote speech on the Dutch water sector successes as inspiration to the Kenyan water sector. He focused on the potential for Kenyan-Dutch collaborations and partnerships to share experiences, benchmark and learn from each other to enhance access to finance, innovative solutions and efficiencies for sustainable water services. Many parallels can be drawn between the two water sectors, Schouten explained. Though the mandate of the water utilities is arranged differently, both are held accountable through their Board of Directors and both engage in utility-led benchmarking under the umbrella of the water utility association (respectively WASPA and VEWIN).
The Kenyan water sector already adopted the utility-led benchmark from the Dutch water sector. This allows the utilities to share experience and best practices to enhance their performance, which will lead to easier access to (blended) finance for investments in the future. The keynote speech was well received by the public and led to interesting discussions.
Lieke Nijk lives and works for VEI in Nairobi and wrote a blog (in Dutch) about the Kenya Water Week. You can read it here.