Guest article: AfWASA at IFAT Munich 2024

Micheline Lawson, Event- and Marketingmanager, AfWASA © GWP.

Innovation and partnerships are transforming Africa’s water supply and sanitation sector

A guest article by Micheline Lawson

[translated from French.]

IFAT 2024, the most important industry gathering for innovators and professionals from the water sector, provided a dynamic platform for the African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWASA). In Munich, AfWASA was able to successfully demonstrate how cooperation and innovative technologies are catalyzing change in the African water and sanitation sector.

AfWASA-CEO Olivier Gosso in conversation with  Stefan Reuter from GWP © GWP.

One of the cornerstones of the success of our IFAT presence this year was our partnership with German Water Partnership e.V. (GWP). The effective collaboration between our organizations not only enabled the important participation of our delegations, but also paved the way for even more impactful initiatives in the future. Olivier Gosso, Managing Director of AfWASA, reaffirmed our commitment: “Our collaboration with GWP is a prime example of what we can achieve together. We are already planning to expand our collaboration to include more joint events and programs that will benefit our members and the global water and wastewater community.”

IFAT Munich 2024 – a starting point for further joint projects

This shared vision for the future includes joint events that evaluate not only technological advances, but also best practices and new adaptation strategies that are critical to addressing the specific challenges facing Africa.

Boris Greifeneder (GWP), Fatim-Hélène Traoré (AfWASA), Claudia Wendland (HAMBURG WASSER), Olivier Gosso (AfWASA), Margaret Maina (AfWASA) and Alexandra Ervenich (GWP-Board Member, Mitsubishi Electric) discuss diversity and the training of skilled workers. © GWP.

These initiatives will not only strengthen existing capacities, but also open up new avenues for international cooperation, research and knowledge exchange, which are crucial for the further progress of the sector.

Moussa Seck, Director of Member Services at AfWASA, emphasizes the vital importance of synergies between the association’s members. During IFAT 2024, these contacts have reached a new dimension and offer valuable opportunities for partnerships, capacity building and professional development.

Mitgliedschaft der AfWASA bildet Diversität des Sektors ab

Moussa Seck points out: “The diversity of our members, ranging from local technicians to national decision-makers, enriches our network. Events like IFAT offer our members the opportunity to make international contacts, discover innovations that can be applied in practice and work together on forward-looking projects. Our mission is to maximize this interaction to strengthen skills at all levels and accelerate progress at both individual and collective levels.

Micheline Lawson (AfWASA) and Moussa Seck (AfWASA) im conversation at the GWP joint booth© GWP.

AfWASA plans to further expand these interactions through Ask The Expert-webinars and other networking events that focus on selected areas that have been pre-identified as critical by our members. These initiatives are designed to not only provide capacity development, but also open up avenues for collaboration on joint projects that will benefit the entire water and sanitation sector in Africa.

The AWASA – Skilled worker development in the African water sector

Siméon Kenfack, Program Director at AfWASA, explains: “There are promising prospects for strengthening the skills of our members through these collaborative platforms, which are catalysts for professional development and mutual success in the industry. The AWASA Academy is born out of the need to fill skills gaps in our industry. Through this platform, we offer cutting-edge training, certification and coaching sessions led by international experts. Our aim is to prepare African professionals to effectively address current and future challenges in the water and sanitation sector.”

Participants of the AfWASA-Delegation at IFAT Munich 2024 © GWP.

The Academy also builds on strategic partnerships – such as the one with German Water Partnership – to enrich its curriculum and gain access to global resources. The Academy’s programs are inclusive. Its topics range from technological innovations to sustainable management of water resources and effective wastewater management strategies.

In addition, continuous cooperation with educational institutions and industry partners enables AfWASA to keep the AWASA Academy curriculum up to date in terms of technology and professional standards. Siméon Kenfack adds: “We plan to further expand our reach by continuing our scholarship programs and integrating online learning modules to make our programs accessible to a greater number of professionals across the continent.”

The initiative is therefore not only a driver for the competitiveness of African skilled workers, but also an important engine for the transformation and modernization of water supply and wastewater disposal on the African continent.

Group photo of participants of the AfWASA-Delegation mit CEO, Members of the Board and Staff from GWP © GWP.

IFAT – a great success

The members of the AfWASA delegation at IFAT were particularly inspired by this experience. El Hadji Diallo, a delegate, reports: “Seeing the technologies in action and being able to speak directly with their developers opens up new perspectives for the application in our projects in Africa. We can see how important it is to have support at an event like IFAT. Together with AfWASA, we have made preparations to ensure that we meet the right people and avoid wasting time and energy at these large events with thousands of exhibitors.”

IFAT 2024 has not only strengthened AfWASA’s position as a leading organization in the water and sanitation sector, but has also paved the way for innovations that can transform the water and sanitation sector on the African continent. AfWASA members return home with increased knowledge and are ready to apply it locally to positively impact their communities. The future looks promising, with new opportunities for collaboration and significant innovation on the horizon.

If you are interested in the Africa region or the association partnership with AfWASA, please take part in the activities of the Regional Forum Africa or contact Marie-Louise Chagnaud at the GWP office.