AfDB puts Rwandan water project on notice

Sunday June 23 2024

The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on January 30, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS


The African Development Bank (AfDB) has put on close watch a $145.8 million water project in Rwanda due to procurement delays that have stalled the project.

The Rwanda Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation project, which benefited from a $122.9 million loan from the AfDB, now risks seeing the exit of the Pan-African lender, which has now categorised it as a “potentially problematic project”.

The bank has so far disbursed to the Water and Sanitation Corporation of Rwanda – the implementing agency – only 15.5 percent of the loan amount, and its exit from the project could plunge it into financial difficulties and jeopardise its success.

“The main challenge under this programme is the long delays in the preparation of feasibility and design studies by the consultants and contract management,” the bank noted in an implementation progress report for the project published on June17.

“The programme is red flagged because of slow procurement and low disbursement,” it added.

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According to the progress report, none of the five key components of the project is complete so far, with exactly two years left to the deadline of the lending facility, causing worries on the achievement of the desired project outcomes.

The bank says the key issues with the project are the “slow implementation, especially at feasibility and design phase,” and “substantial delays in the procurement process, especially in the lead time for the preparation and submission of bids evaluation reports.”

“Fast-track implementation of the activities and follow up the implementation of the agreed actions to have a detailed schedule for the completion of all on-going studies and works,” the lender said.

At completion, the water project is expected to provide clean water to at least 5.4 million Rwandans, more than double the population that had access as of 2018, when the project kicked off.

So far, it has only managed to increase connection by 451,000, attaining only 15.8 percent of the desired outcome.

The project was also supposed to decrease non-revenue water provided by the corporation from 35 percent to 25 percent but has so far managed to increase it to 42 percent, moving further away from the target.

On the sewerage part of the project, close to no progress has been made six years after the project’s initiation. The population covered by the central sewerage system in Kigali is still zero, against a target of 294,480 people. No one has also benefited from the faecal treatment plant and solid waste landfills because they have not been procured.

To enable timely achievement of the desired results, the bank wants the enforcing agency to “follow up the implementation of agreed actions to overcome encountered challenges and be reported in every quarterly progress report.”

The warning from the AfDB comes at a time when it also made public its exit from a $65 million waste power plant in Nairobi, due to similar delays in procurement of necessary services.