In the current circumstance of the pressing need for water security, the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) is stepping up to the plate to assist with finance for feasible projects that work towards water security, says CEO Martin Inkumbi.
The Bank, Inkumbi says, has the necessary experience to provide finance geared to water provision. In this regard, he cites projects financed by DBN, such as Aqua Utilities which semi-purifies water for industrial purposes in Walvis Bay, as well as finance for water reticulation for various local authorities and private developers as part and parcel of finance for serviced land.
Given feasibility and financial viability, the Bank will prioritise finance for water infrastructure. He goes on to say that the Bank is aware that finance will be a barrier to planning, so an indication of availability of finance can be a means to speed up the planning and early implementation of water infrastructure and water delivery services.
Talking about project timelines, Inkumbi notes that although the Bank will seek to contribute finance for short-term alleviation of needs, the Bank is also aware that drought is a recurring phenomenon, and will look favourably on medium to long-term solutions, that ensure long-term water supply.
Local authorities critical
Concerning the scope of finance, Inkumbi says that the immediate focus of the Bank will be local authorities, as these are the key providers of water to households and enterprises. He says that the Bank believes that rehabilitation of aging water infrastructure, as well as provision of new infrastructure to distribute water in a more efficient manner, are areas with a high potential to generate water savings.
He goes on to say that the Bank will also consider finance for better administration of water. By improving payment and administration systems for water, more funds can be released through local authorities to further develop the supply of water on a national level.
In terms of practical implementation, Inkumbi says the Bank has a strong body of experience in assessing public-private partnerships (PPPs), and the Bank's assessment of an application for finance will be a strong indicator of the feasibility of the project.
Finance for enterprise initiatives
On the topic of enterprise water-consumption and efficiency, Inkumbi states that this is a concern to the Bank. He points out that a loss of capacity due to water cuts, either in the form of a shutdown of production or a slowdown, immediately affects the viability of the enterprise, creates a drag on growth and will impact economic development and employment.
He says that enterprises with plans to implement new water efficient technology or rehabilitate existing technology should contact the Bank concerning finance. In light of the cost of loss of productivity, he says enterprises should view this form of plan as a means to sustain themselves, not just immediately, but also in future.
Although there is an immediate need for water efficiency, Inkumbi stresses that feasibility and financial viability of water delivery are crucial. We should not risk immediate solutions that are not sustainable in the long-term, or that remove water from the local authority system, as is the case with grey water, which has to be reclaimed for purification, he points out.
He says the Bank will filter applications through its environmental and social management system (ESMS) to ensure that potentially harmful impacts are mitigated, and that the regulations of local authorities concerning water are adhered to.
He also encourages engineers and project managers to approach the Bank to familiarise themselves with the Bank's ESMS.
Finance for bulk water
On the topic of finance for national projects, Inkumbi says due to the size of the requirement, this will be a challenge for the pool of Namibian financial resources. He notes that current projections will place strain on any single source of finance, so syndicate finance will be required.
In conclusion, Inkumbi reiterates that the Bank will open the financing tap for feasible projects. He says that in the past, the Bank has responded rapidly and effectively to emerging issues, and that the Bank will do so to improve water security as well.