As activists across Africa mark this year’s Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatization, a coalition of civil society and labour activists have decried attempts to commercialize and privatize water on the continent.
The Our Water, Our Right Africa Coalition (OWORAC) at this year’s event, which is the third called for concerted efforts to resist attempts to commodify water and take it out of the reach of the poor.
Speaking in Lagos on Monday to mark this year’s Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatisation with the theme; Holding Hands to Protect Africa’s Water from Corporate Capture, the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said rights of people to water are gradually been eroded by corporations with the endorsement of governments.
According to him, “Even our right to elect the kind of leaders that we want is gradually been taken from us by corporations. Water is not a commodity to be traded, battered, or sold to the highest bidder. The rich countries of the global North must stop funding neocolonial commodification practices in Global South countries, especially in Africa disguised as benevolent development and interventions.”
Oluwafemi called on the capitalist West to stop pillaging Africa’s water under the guise of providing innovative solutions.
On his part, the Public Services International Regional Secretary for Africa and Arab countries, Sani Baba Mohammed said, “Corporate greed has turned Africa’s water into blue gold mines deepening inequalities and leaving communities parched, even when surrounded by an abundance of what is rightly theirs.” He therefore called for action to stop this, saying, “Only community-driven solutions rooted in democratic decision-making and control of water resources for public good can guarantee water access, equality, accountability and security of jobs.”
Also, the subregional secretary for English-speaking Africa for Public Services International, Everline Akech, condemned what she called the commodification of water, saying this would take away the availability of the commodity from women who were the major users and providers of it for use at home.
Abiodun Bakare, who is the auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Lagos Council called for the collaboration of workers and activists to resist the move to privatize water.
Neil Gupta, Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability, who spoke via Zoom from Boston, USA, said Western powers and their financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank are the beneficiaries of water privatization.
He decried the fact that water which is an essential aspect of life has now been turned into an industry to exploit the poor.
He accused corporations and their shareholders of making stupendous wealth from privatizing community water systems across the globe.
Others who spoke at the event included, Fatou Diouf, the project coordinator at Public Service International, Aderonke Ige, Associate Director, CAPPA, and a host of others.
The event was part of activities across 12 countries in Africa to mobilise communities against the privatisation of water. It is expected to caution governments against taking such steps.