Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has launched a project to reduce ‘non-revenue water’ losses in Kigali’s supply.
Non-revenue water is the difference between water supplied and water billed. WASAC currently loses 35 per cent of revenues.
The three-year project is expected to significantly contribute to the utility’s target of reducing revenue loss to 25 per cent in the next five years, WASAC chief executive James Sano said.
The 25 per cent target is considered Africa’s non-revenue water benchmark. Most developed countries incur between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of non-revenue water loses.
Japan has one of the lowest rates of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.
Kigali constitutes 60 per cent of the water supply and revenues collected. However, it also registers the highest rate of non-revenue water in the country mainly due to worn-out network.
“The water network we have in Kigali, for instance, was built to serve 350 people many years ago. But we now have more than 1.2 million. This means that although we supply water to all these people, we don’t bill all of it due to old network,” Sano said.
“Non-revenue water can only decrease but we can’t stop it completely.”
He said the new strategy will improve the utility’s capacity to identify the best way to collect water revenues and reduce revenue losses.
Rwanda has come a long way regarding containing non-revenue water losses, from 42 per cent to the current 35 per cent. However, Sano said WASAC, together with Ministry of Infrastructure, had come up with several initiatives to strengthen non-revenue water control strategies, in Kigali and upcountry water networks.
One of the initiatives includes the recently adopted Performance Improvement Programme.
“No country in Africa has achieved the 25 per cent target of non-revenue water but we want to push ourselves toward that,” said an optimistic Sano, adding that the new project is timely and will improve the entire country’s water supply efficiency in the long run.
“Water supply management is a big challenge not only for Rwanda but throughout the world. We are happy that we are partnering with experienced water experts from Yokohama Water Utility and the Japanese government, through JICA, to reduce losses and improve the efficiency of water management,” he said.
Although both parties have not disclosed the amount of money invested in the project, it is understood that JICA will finance all the logistics in addition to hiring Japanese water engineers to work with local counterparts in implementing water control strategy for three years.
Aya Kagota, JICA programme manager, said the project serves as an “additional layer” for JICA to continue its development partnership with the country, specifically contributing toward improving water and sanitation.
“JICA has been an active development partner, especially in water projects in rural water supply, particularly in Eastern Province. We hope to see very strong results with support from a very experienced team from Yokohama Water Utility,” said Kagota.
Shigeo Otani, the project director, said as much as the time-frame might be “too ambitious” to yield results, they are “committed to do all they can to achieve the targets.”
Japan is the second country to partner with WASAC in strengthening non-revenue water control following the Netherlands.