Lagos Water Corporation; The Environmental Rights Action; Friends of the Earth International; Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE); Various community leaders in Lagos.

What & When

Various community leaders and civil society members protested in Lagos last week1 over the state government's plans to privatise the Lagos Water Corporation. The protesters were especially miffed by a    arliament Mudashiru Obasa in the local media.

Obasa reportedly said, "If you want clean water and to stop people from digging boreholes, you must privatize the agency (Lagos Water Corporation)...Foreign partners want to come in and this is at a cost. Then come to think of the dangers of sinking boreholes. So what we are trying to do now is to create the conducive environment for the foreign investors to come in."2


The protest occurred in the Lagos state capital of Ikeja, at the House of Assembly, the state parliament.


The Lagos Water Corporation is the sole, municipal water supplier in the city, but it's largely inefficient because it lacks the infrastructure to treat and supply water to the city's population of about 20 million people. Nearly every household and business in the city relies on private boreholes for their water needs. But many people drink bottled water or dispenser water. The government believes privatising the water corporation will make it more efficient in providing clean water to the people, but activists believe the water will then be priced beyond what most Lagosians can afford.


The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) was in talks with the Lagos government in 2014 about funding a public-private partnership deal, but last year the IFC announced it was pulling out of the talks. It didn't say why, but many similar water privatisation projects have been opposed in other countries and have shown little success. One report suggests that several cities in Africa including Johannesburg, Maputo and Accra have "re-municipalised" their water systems in the last 15 years.3

So continued opposition will probably halt the government's privatisation plans, especially because this government is somewhat sensitive to public opinion and activist calls. In June for instance, the government urgently wanted to ban people from street hawking in traffic (a characteristic of the city), but it shelved the move when the public widely opposed it.

Written by Songhai Advisory Analyst Adedayo Ademuwagun (Lagos) with inputs from Managing Partners Kissy Agyeman-Togobo (Accra) and Nana Adu Ampofo (London)


1 27 July 2016


3 https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/water-privatisation-a-worldwide-failure

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