“Stop mounting pressure on countries to privatize water.” PSI sends cautionary calls to World Bank.

17 May 2018
PSI is calling on the World Bank to cease mounting pressure on countries to privatize water and other public services, says Sani Baba Mohammed, PSI Regional Secretary for Africa and Arab Countries.

“The World Bank should heed studies by its own Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) which call into question the results of many years of privatization.  Further, Bank Executives should look in their own group of countries to see that water privatizations are increasingly being reversed, having failed to deliver on their promises.  They should not export their failed policies to Nigeria and in extension, Africa, whether in hopes on winning contracts for their home companies, or from ideological rigidity.”

Sani Baba made these comments following a recent visit by World Bank Executive Directors to Nigeria, ostensibly to study what they call the challenges and expectations of partners in West Africa.

The Our Water Our Right Coalition, which comprises the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE, a PSI affiliate), Corporate Accountability, Child Health Organisation, among others, has questioned the timing of this visit, throwing into play the secrecy surrounding it.

Already, pressure has been mounting in Nigeria from trade unions in the water sector against the Lagos State’s decision to hand over the management of water into the hands of private multinational firms, with many calling on the State government to rescind its decision.

The Our Water Our Right Coalition has recently been holding series of activities and campaigns against in attempts to get the governor of the Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode, to pull back from the decision to privatize water, describing such a decision as another form of corruption that will only rob the people of Lagos of their rights. 

Last week, World Bank Executive Directors from Switzerland, France, Italy, Denmark, Peru, Germany and South Africa (representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa) were in Nigeria for a meeting.

ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, in a statement, said: “Not only was the World Bank visit concealed until the team arrived, the caliber of directors on the entourage showed that they were only in Nigeria to consolidate on schemes contrived behind closed doors to financialize critical sectors of the economy, including water.”

Oluwafemi pointed out that the timing of the visit would seem to explain why the World Bank and its private arm – International Finance Corporation (IFC), were in heavy attendance at the recent Global Water Summit held in France where discussions with the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) tilted towards financializing Lagos water.

The Coalition, as well as PSI, hereby calls on the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to be careful of this deal with the World Bank as already, there have been statements alluded to Ambode on the Bank’s budget support initiatives in the water sector for the country as having supposedly resulted in “stronger ties with the institution.”

“We have said it time and again that Lagos and other states of the federation can fund water sustainably if they build the political will to prioritize water for the people and come up with a comprehensive plan that invests in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, create jobs, and improve public health,” the Coalition statement said.

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