Water-related investment envelopes and project portfolios for Africa


FAO, as the chair of the United Nations inter-agency mechanism UN-Water for the period 2006-2009, organized in close collaboration with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the African Union (AU), the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) a Ministerial Conference on water for agriculture and energy in Africa: the challenges of climate change. This conference was held in Sirte, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from 15 to 17 December 2008.

The principal aim of the conference was to examine the issue of water resources in Africa in the context of higher demand from the agriculture and energy sectors and climate change. The increase in energy costs provides further justification for the development of alternative sources of energy, in particular hydropower. The development of African agriculture, which is essentially rainfed, will also depend on expanding and improving irrigation in the face of a growing population.

The conference also examined investment needs and management problems for harnessing water and irrigation at village level, for the rehabilitation of large-scale hydro-agricultural works and for the development of major river basins. The focus was on concrete programmes and the assessment of their financing costs, both in terms of feasibility studies and implementation of works.

The conference adopted a dynamic visionary framework that primarily considered the actions/outputs stated in the Declaration of the Sirte 2004 Conference as its entry point. Since new pressing challenges have emerged, and need to be robustly tackled, a renewed strength has been added to the commitments agreed upon in 2004. In particular, there was a need to address the linkages between water and energy at an accelerated pace focusing on the impacts of climate change on the use of these resources.

One of the main outcomes of the conference was the production of national investment briefs (NIBs) for all African countries with estimated investment needs in water for agriculture and energy based on a review and updating of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other investment projections at both country and river basin levels.

Water-related investment envelopes

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Water-related project portfolios

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Preparation of the national investment briefs

The NIBs contain information about national investment needs, trade, climate change and polices for water, agriculture and energy in each of the 53 African countries.

Investment needs have been assessed based on the NEPAD-CAADP and other investment projections, including NEPAD National Medium Term Investment Programmes (NMTIP) and National Programmes for Food Security (NPFS). Recently implemented, on-going and pipeline projects as well as Bankable Investment Project Profiles (BIPPs) are presented in the NIBs.

The highly participatory approach that led to the compilation of the NIBs consisted in a series of consultations in order to achieve an updated and reliable insight on the water resources and uses for agriculture and energy in each African country.

A Draft 0 of the NIBs was prepared by for each country the Conference Secretariat which, for reasons of data coherence and uniformity of sources, included a chart exhibiting the trade balance, a map of water control, and an annex reporting the main data on irrigation and energy resources in the country. The Drafts 0, together with profound guidelines for the compilation of the NIB, were used by national consultants who had been recruited to complete their country NIB, in close collaboration with the national authorities.

The work of the national consultants, revised by the Conference Secretariat and a larger team including FAO regional and sub-regional officers, resulted in Draft 1 of the NIBs and was submitted to the relevant ministries (agriculture, energy, and water resources) before a consultation process took place to validate information and finalize content in each of the five regions:

  • Central Africa (8): Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
  • East Africa (10): Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda
  • North Africa (4): Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Southern Africa (15): Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • West Africa (16): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

The five regional workshops took place between October and December 2008 and saw the participation of representatives from the relevant ministries of each African country. One of the main objectives of the workshops was the revision of the NIBs, with a particular focus on the Investment Envelope and the Projects Portfolio. The consultations led to some immediate results where representatives of different ministries amended and updated the content of the NIBs during the workshop, and some delayed results, where various revisions have been received after the workshops – both providing a more updated list of projects or more precise country information.

Modifications and amendments were incorporated and Draft 2 of the NIBs was produced and sent to the national governments for final revision and endorsement before the Sirte Conference.

All NIBs have then been amended and completed following the directions received at the conference and finally published on the Sirte conference website.

Structure of the NIB report

The NIBs have been prepared in a standard format so as to allow for regional aggregation and analysis.

Each NIB starts with an executive summary, which includes paragraphs on: i) poverty and food security; ii) agriculture, irrigation, and climate change; iii) water resources and hydropower; iv) national development agenda; v) financial envelop for investment programmes and projects at short, medium and long terms.

Chapter 1 contains a description of the agriculture and food security, water resources and hydropower, and climate change situation in the country. Section 1.1 on agriculture and food security include information on: i) gross domestic product (GDP), role of agriculture in the economy, rural employment; ii) typology of agricultural holdings (small scale, emerging, commercial, etc.); iii) irrigation potential, extent of irrigation area, typology of irrigation and water control holdings, statistics, main crops, state of infrastructure; iv) undernourishment, trends, time to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 and World Food Summit (WFS) targets; v) food and agriculture trade and import balance, which describes the trends of agricultural import and export, food commercial bills and major food commodities imported. The trade of agricultural products of the country over the last 35 years is shown and explained in figures, with short analysis about the reasons behind the trends and sharp changes of values over the years. Section 1.2 on water resources and hydropower contains information on the river network, water resources, dams and their capacity, groundwater, intensity of use and percentage water resources originating outside the country, and hydropower (installed capacity, potential). Section 1.3 on climate change addresses the different climate change issues in the country such as: i) different evidences of climatic change and their different impacts and significance; ii) the future scenarios, challenges and expected impacts of climate change on agriculture natural resources; iii) the adaptation to climate change and the required major shifts in policies and practices aimed at protecting natural resources from further degradation; iv) the country policies and framework for actions to mitigate climate change effects.

Chapter 2 contains information on national strategies for water, agriculture and energy and an estimate of the national investment envelope and the project portfolio. Section 2.1 on the policy context describes the different strategies, programmes, polices of the country and its action plans: i) the national development agenda, poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP), national food security programme; ii) agricultural policy, strategy and programmes; iii) irrigation policy, strategy and programmes; iv) water development policy, strategy and programmes; v) energy policy, strategy and programmes. The investment envelope in chapter 2.2 represents the country’s estimated investment needs in water for agriculture and energy in the short term (year 1-4), medium term (year 5-8) and long term (beyond year 8). Investments were divided into small-scale water control, rehabilitation of large irrigation schemes, and large scale hydraulic projects, including new large irrigation schemes, dams, and river basin transfer works. The table was pre-filled with NEPAD-CAADP estimates for water management and land improvement. In the project portfolio in chapter 2.3 projects larger than US$1 million are reported. They are organized in three categories: projects recently achieved (less than 5 years ago); on-going projects; pipeline projects. A short description of each is provided, indicating expected outputs. The main sources for the table are: NEPAD national mid-term project profiles; NEPAD bankable investment project profiles; World Bank, IFAD, AfDB, national governments.

The investment framework

As a result of the undertaken process, the programmatic framework for investment can be synthetically presented as follows:

  • Actions undertaken have been based on the individual NIBs but seen within the context of a shared regional vision, and eventually an overall African one.
  • The objectives of the investment plan aim at addressing poverty alleviation through food security and health upgrading, agricultural development pillared in hydraulic and energy infrastructure, the promotion and scaling up of renewable and alternative energies, and the protection of ecosystems and the environment.
  • While priorities necessarily vary from country to country, conjunctive use of water resources is a key consideration in all efforts. Likewise, all water projects reported address the viability of power generation components, and reflect a river basin perspective. Thus, an integrated water resources management approach is an embedded component of the investment plan.
  • A capacity development component is inherent to every element of the investment plan. Indeed, the needs are broad: i) enhancing institutional and managerial capacity for the absorption of investment funds at both country and regional level; ii) upgrading capacity to deal with climate issues, such as variability and impact of change, mitigation and adaptation for both rainfed and irrigated conditions, predictions and early warning systems; iii) support for adoption and implementation of climate change adaptation action plans at national and regional levels, already under various degrees of preparation.
  • The estimated cumulative amount of investments for ongoing and pipeline projects in water for agriculture and energy on the continent reaches about US$64 600 million.

The investment framework specifies and distinguishes: a) the size of project infrastructure: small-scale irrigation, rehabilitation of irrigation, large hydraulic projects; b) the time frame: short term (< 4 years), medium term (4-8 years) and long term (> 8 years).

The highest proportion of the cost is noticeably allocated to large-scale projects including large-scale irrigation schemes development and hydropower projects. Similarly, 56 percent of the total investment envelope is expected to be exhausted in the medium term, showing a clear need to enhance the planning for investments in the long term to ensure sustained and permanent growth in the agriculture and energy sector to meet the food and energy security goals (Table 1).

As demonstrated by the results of the preparatory work for the Sirte Conference, West Africa, with the great hydropower potential to be exploited, accounts for 32 percent of the continental investment envelope. Southern Africa, East Africa and North Africa have a share of 26, 24, and 15 percent respectively, while the residual 3 percent is for Central Africa, indicating that more effort should be made in that region to undertake project formulation and feasibility studies in the water sector, particularly considering the enormous hydropower potential not yet exploited (Table 2).

At the end of the conference the Declaration of Sirte 2008 Conference was presented and adopted.

Primary data sources

The following is a list of the primary web links from which most information was derived to prepare the National Investment Briefs, in addition to specific information made available by the country.

African Development Bank country information

African Development Bank project database

AQUASTAT, FAO’s global information system on water and agriculture

AQUASTAT country profiles

FAO Statistics. Trends in hunger reduction for the monitoring of the WFS and MDG targets

FAO 2003. Technical Cooperation Department. Field programme activities. Country project database

IFAD operations by country

NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)

NEPAD National Medium-Term Investment Programmes (NMTIPs and BIPPs)

UNCCD national communications

UNDP Human Development Report 2006 – Background papers

World Bank country information

World Bank country water resources assistance strategy

World Bank project database

World Bank and AfDB climate change consultations



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