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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Ghana: Water Privatization

Ghana: Water Privatization
Date distributed (ymd): 010604
Document reposted by APIC

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+


This posting contains a call for international support from the Ghana National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water, and the Accra Declaration issued during the National Forum on Water Privatisation that took place in Accra, Ghana during May 16-19, 2001.

For additional background on this issue see
the web sites of Globalization Challenge Initiative ( and Public Services International ( and, as well as a posting earlier this year at>

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



May 31, 2001

Dear Sisters and Brothers around the World:

We call upon organizations and individuals around the world to express their international solidarity with the struggle of the Ghanaian people to stop the privatisation of their water services. World Bank policies require the Government of Ghana to privatise water in order to gain access to external assistance and soft loans. Five multinational corporations have bid for the urban water service in Accra, most of them with annual sales larger than the GDP of Ghana, and all of them with proven records of socially irresponsible practices.

The National Forum on Water Privatisation took place in Accra, Ghana during May 16-19, 2001. At the end of four days of vigorous and exciting debate, the participants in the Forum founded the Ghana National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water, called the 'Ghana National CAP of Water' and drafted the Accra Declaration, attached below.

Express your solidarity! Show your support for the struggle to stop the worldwide attempt to commodify water for the profit and benefit of a few. Forward this message to others and then please take the following actions:

  • Sign-on to the Accra Declaration. Send your name and organizational affiliation to

  • Write, fax or e-mail messages to the following people and tell them to: Please stop the process toward privatisation of water services until the people of Ghana have an opportunity to debate and discuss a wide range of water management options, including community/public partnerships.
    1. His Excellency Mr. J.A. Kufuor
      Office of the President of Ghana
      Tel.: 233-21-676923/4 ext.110; Fax: 233-21-676934, 666528

    2. Honorable Mr. Kwamena Bartel
      Minister of Works and Housing
      Ministry of Works and Housing
      P. O. Box M27 - Ministries
      Tel: 233-21-665323; Fax: 233-21-663268

    3. Mr. Peter Harrold
      World Bank Resident Representative, Ghana
      P. O. Box M27 - Ministries
      Tel: 233-724/22037; Fax: 233-72-227887

    4. Trade Union Congress (TUC)
      Secretary General
      P. O. Box 701
      Tel: 233-21-62568 or 669675; Fax: 233-21-763920

    5. Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)
      Old Parliament House
      Tel: 233-21-662568 or 669675; Fax: 233-21-667161

    6. Speaker of the Parliament
      The Speaker
      Parliament House
      Tel. 233-21-668514

Thank you very much and please send a copy of all your messages to the Ghana National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water (National CAP of Water) at:
Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC)
P.O. Box 19452
Accra North, Ghana
Email: or
Fax: 233/21 311687; Tel: 233/21 30606


International Solidarity Committee for the National CAP of Water


19th May, 2001

At the end of 4 days of debate during the National Forum on Water Privatization in Accra, Ghana, which took place between the 16-19th of May, we the undersigned declare as follows:

  • We are a diverse group of individuals and organizations drawn from various parts of the country, and from other parts of Africa, Europe and the United States; involved in the private, public and voluntary sectors and working at varying levels of society.

  • We are united by the following common principles, beliefs and values:
    • That water is a fundamental human right, essential to human life to which every person, rich or poor, man or woman, child or adult is entitled.
    • That water is not and should not be a common commodity to be bought and sold in the market place as an economic good.
    • Water is a natural resource that is part of our common heritage to be used judiciously and preserved for the common good of our societies and the natural environment today and in the future.
    • Water is an increasingly scarce natural resource, and as a result crucial to the securities of our societies and sovereignty of our country. For this reason alone, its ownership, control, delivery and management belong in the public domain today and tomorrow.
    • The public sector is legally and constitutionally mandated and designed to represent the public interest. The essential purpose of the private sector on the other hand is to make profit not to promote the public good. Any public benefits arising from the private sector's activities are incidental not designed. As a result, the private sector cannot be trusted with the public interest.
    • Citizens have the right to effectively participate (as distinguished from being informed) in the shaping of public policies which fundamentally affect their lives such as the control of water, and that government has a responsibility to enforce this right.
    • Community participation in the management of water systems is valid/legitimate, essential and beneficial to the overall effectiveness in affordable and sustainable water delivery.
    • Water management policies should be designed to ensure social equity such as gender equity, public health and environmental equity.

Guided by the above stated principles, we commit to:

  • Forming and promoting a Ghana National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water herein called "The Ghana National CAP of Water" which will be a broad coalition of individuals and organisations committed to the above principles and to the following objectives:
    • To conduct a broad-based campaign to ensure that all Ghanaians have access to adequate and affordable portable water by the year 2010.
    • To ensure that the right to water is explicitly guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
    • To ensure that the ownership, control and management of water services remain in public hands.
    • To promote public awareness and debate about the privatization process.
    • To promote alternative solutions to the problems militating against universal access to water including problems of public management efficiency.

We recognize:

  • The important role that the local private business sector can play, and should play, in partnership with communities, Ghanaian artisans and experts and local government in ensuring efficient and effective supply of water services.

  • The inability of the Ghana Water Company Ltd (formerly Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation) over the years to provide efficient and effective services resulting in public frustrations and some loss of faith in the company. However these perceived and real failures can only be appropriately understood within the context of the broader failure of governance and democracy over the years encompassing a wide range of institutions including the security services, the judiciary and many more. It is unlikely that the acceptable solution for the failures of these institutions will be to privatize them.

  • The severe shortage of investment in the water sector required to deliver adequate and affordable water to all. Whilst the severity of this resource problem is itself debatable, it has nevertheless led to solutions resulting in heavy dependency on foreign creditors (especially the World Bank) which has in turn compelled the country to accept rigid conditionalities that have limited our options for financing and reforming the water sector.

  • We recognize the close link between access to water and improved public health in view of the fact that nearly 70% of all diseases in Ghana are currently water related.

We reject:

  • The view that privatization (the participation of foreign transnational corporations) is the appropriate solution to the problems bedeviling our water sector.

  • The view that "to be private is to be efficient, and to be public is to be inefficient"

  • The view that the public sector, in this case the GWC Ltd, is incapable of being reformed to deliver water services efficiently and effectively to all.

  • The view that the participation of communities in the management of urban water supply is not feasible and cannot be efficient.

  • The commodification of water.

  • Efficiency solutions which result in the violation of social and environmental rights and justice such as the rights of workers, women, children and the preservation of the natural environment.

  • The World Bank imposed policy of charging rural and small town communities an upfront contribution to capital cost. This policy discriminates against rural and small town dwellers as it does not apply to those who reside in large cities. The policy has also resulted in excluding poor communities incapable of paying from enjoying their right to consume portable water.

We call upon:

The Government of Ghana:

  • To reverse the decision to put the privatization process on a fast-track and to reconsider the broader decision to invite the participation of foreign companies into water sector. Instead, the GOG should investigate approaches which enhance and promote local businesses in cooperation with communities, local government bodies and the GWC Ltd.

  • Publish the terms guiding the bidding process as well as the profile of the companies currently pre-qualified to bid.

  • Put all relevant documents in the public domain, including World bank mission, project and evaluation reports, the so-called Stone and Webster Report and/or the Transaction Advisor's Report etc.

  • Conduct a country-wide public debate on options for reforming sector, including but not limited to private sector participation.

  • Review the budget with the view to prioritizing allocation in favour of the water sector.


  • Exert pressure on government to allow for broad debate and a possible review of the current decision to privatize.

  • Embark on wide-scale consultation with their constituencies and civil society in general.

  • Support a process of constitutional and legal reform to secure the rights of all persons to portable water.

The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

  • Make the Right to Water central to their campaign on the right to life.

The TUC, the PUWU and Organisations of working people.

  • Be at the fore front in the struggle for the right to water, and our right as a nation to keep our public utilities within the public sector.

  • Continue to work towards greater efficiency, accountability and good governance in all of our national life including the water sector.

  • To oppose the mortgaging of our water resources to foreign multinational companies, with proven record of the oppressions of workers rights and the promotion of corrupt and corrupting practices in other jurisdictions.

Women's Rights Organisation

  • To recognize and promote the right to water as crucial to addressing gender inequality and repression

The GJA and the Media Houses and Practitioners

  • To call for and support an informed and broad-based debate on the water privatization agenda and its effect on the right to water by all Ghanaians.

Religious Organisations, and all other sectors of Civil Society.

  • To raise the moral voice on the right to water and to lend their varied media to popular education and debate on the effects of water privatization.

Ministry of Health

  • To join the campaign to ensure access to safe, affordable water as a fundamental aspect of the commitment to improve the public health of the nation.

Donors, Creditors, Including the World Bank

  • To de-link external assistance and soft loans to the condition to privatize our water systems.

  • To commit to promoting true national ownership of policies as expected under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper processes currently being actively promoted by them. This requires, among others, respecting genuine national decisions which may not be in consonance with their opinion.

  • To fulfill the commitment made by the Ghana World Bank resident Representative, Mr Peter Harrold, at the National Forum on Water Privatization, to make the eradication of guinea worm the number one priority. This will require that public health, rather than cost recovery determine investment in water services.

We commit ourselves, under the banner of the Ghana National CAP of Water to pursuing these demands and commitments to their logical conclusions. We believe that under the new democratic dispensation we will be one with government in promoting zero tolerance to corruption, democratic participation, transparency and accountability. We, like the government believe that these are important tenants of democracy and good governance and are crucial to ensuring social justice and reducing waste.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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