Private Sector Participation in the Water and Rangeland Markets in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALS)

The private sector has a critical role in ending extreme poverty and realizing sustainable development, specifically through job creation, technology development, and investments. Indeed, the private sector creates an estimated 90% of all jobs in developing countries. Further, the private sector typically accounts for 60% of gross domestic product and 80% of total international capital flows (including foreign direct investment, portfolio equity flows, commercial debt, and remittances) in developing countries. While the place for private sector in ending poverty is clear, attracting and sustaining long-term private sector investments remains a challenge for areas that need it the most – poor and often marginalized regions.

The five counties targeted by the RAPID+ program being implemented by MWA Kenya and funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), INGO implementing partners and the private sectors are among the poorest regions in Kenya. Considered as mostly Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), the counties are characterized by low and erratic rainfall, low population density, low development indicators, high poverty incidence, food insecurity, weak institutions, and poor infrastructure. This combination of traits presents complex challenges that require creative and innovative approaches by both government and development partners to attract and retain private sector players.

It is against this backdrop that RAPID+ is seeking to improve on and scale up private sector activities in the five counties. A foundational activity in scaling up private sector work in the five RAPID+ counties was conducting an assessment to understand private sector participation in the water and rangelands sectors in the ASALs. The assessment was conducted between July 2022 and March 2023 and the assessment report launched by the Deputy Regional Head of International Cooperation, Horn of Africa for the Embassy of Switzerland in Kenya -Mr. Frank Bertelsbeck on Tuesday 4th July 2023. In attendance at the launch were various private sector entities including Solargen Technologies Limited, Acacia Water, Global Communities- Afriscout, WaterKiosk Africa, Davis & Shirtliff Kenya, Epicenter Africa, and FundiFix. The event was also graced by county government representatives from the 5 RAPID+ counties, staff from the Swiss Embassy in Kenya, representatives from the Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF) and a representative from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kenya.

The assessment report can be accessed using this link.