Africa: Shark in the water

3 min
Stéphane Colliac
Stéphane Colliac Senior Economist for France and Africa

What if Africa’s growth story would suddenly be interrupted by a shortage of…water. Water supply is still a key input to the main growth contributor (agriculture) and tensions about access to water have already risen as a result of conflicting needs: agriculture, urbanization (water sanitation) and power generation (which is often about dams in Africa). E.g. the Green Morocco Plan allowed productivity gains, but the agricultural output remained volatile, which may have income consequences for producers, an issue that is also highly sensitive in other areas of the continent. In Kenya and Ethiopia, poor crops were a key contributor to social tensions in 2017-2018. In the context of constrained access to land and water resources, farmers and herders are increasingly opposing violently in West African countries. According to the United Nations, water use has risen by +1% a year since the 1980s and should increase further by +30% until 2050. However, water supply is likely to lag the needs since investment is not following the trend (institutional capabilities and financing are key bottlenecks).