This week, Total Uganda and National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) launched their partnership in hosting the 20th African Water Association (AfWA) Congress and Exhibition at the Total Head Office on plot 4 8th street.
As preparations for the congress draw closer, Total Managing Director Obi Imeme explains its significance to Total and all Ugandans.
- What is the AfWA Congress?
The AfWA Congress and Exhibition is a bi-annual Congress held by the African Water Association (AfWA) as part of a mechanism to enhance exchange of ideas and seek for innovative solutions related to water and sanitation industry.
AfWA is professional association with over 100 members in over 50 countries in Africa and the rest of the world. AfWA is the biggest and strongest agenda setting, policy influencing and solution seeking water and sanitation association in Africa
The 20th AfWA Congress and Exhibition is organised by AfWA in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) on Behalf of the Government of Uganda as well as Total Uganda as a sponsor. The Congress will be held at the Kampala Serena Hotel from 24th -27th February under theme; “Breaking New Grounds to Accelerate Access to Water and Sanitation for All in Africa”.
- What is the main focus of the AfWA Kampala Congress?
African countries are confronted with several water and sanitation challenges, including; rapid urbanization putting unprecedented strain on existing water and sanitation infrastructure, low operational efficiencies, climate change effects and poor environmental protection, ineffective leadership, inadequate funding for expansion and development of new infrastructure to mention but a few. These challenges require renewed thought and innovation in order to effectively address them. Various solutions and innovations have been designed to tackle specific challenges faced by different utilities in Africa
The congress will therefore focus on the new breakthrough solutions and innovations to address the current water and sanitation challenges in Africa. It will also be the time to look at the bigger picture, reflect on the progress made with the SDGs, the key role of the African Water and Sanitation Academy (AWSA) is going to play and how Africa fits into the global picture. AWSA – a center of excellence for improving the water and sanitation sector performance in Africa -. will also be officially launched during the congress and will be hosted in Uganda by NWSC.
- As a company that operates in the energy/ oil and gas industry, what is your interest in this AfWa Congress?
Currently, half of the people who drink water from unsafe sources live in Africa. In Uganda, 51% of Ugandans lack access to safe water and 82% do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
The importance of water and sanitation cannot be overemphasized. Total Uganda is guided by its goals to improve water and sanitation as a top priority in the communities we operate in.
Our partnership with NWSC shows our commitment to enhance the lives of people in our communities and ensure sustainable development. One of our main key focus areas is environmental sustainability and we believe that through our efforts, we can turn water and sanitation into a critical line of defence against climate change.
It is with this background that we have decided to contribute €25,000 to the upcoming African Water Association Congress to address these issues.
- Besides this conference, what other social responsibility activities has Total embarked on in the past?
In the past, Total Uganda has been at the forefront of promoting health and sanitation in its areas of operation. For example, we donated towards the fight against Cholera in Hoima and Buliisa, we aided community health through donations of garbage bunkers and bins to Pakwach and Anaka towns, and also rehabilitated sanitary blocks destroyed by a storm at Kirama primary school in Buliisa district.
- So back to the conference, how will Ugandans benefit?
Let me start by saying hosting the 20th AfWA Congress is both an honor and a remarkable opportunity for the country. We will have the chance to showcase the innovations we have implemented, while learning from the rest of the world practical solutions to accelerating access to safe water and sanitation for All in Uganda
Aside from that, there will be business opportunities in the service industry and in the long-term widened visibility of our tourism industry.
- Any last remarks?
The 20th AfWA congress will be the largest water and sanitation event in Africa in 2020 and will therefore be a major attraction for regional and international visitors as well. As Total, one of our main key focus areas is environmental sustainability and we believe that through our efforts, we can turn water and sanitation into a critical line of defence against climate change.