African private sector investors can take advantage of the untapped opportunities in the sanitation value chain to create jobs and grow its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Tanzim Rezwan, marketing director of Reckitt sub-Saharan Africa, has said.
BusinessDay understands that opportunities in the sanitation value chain include manufacturing toilet cleaning solutions to maintain clean toilets and building public toilets in both urban and rural areas to put an end to open defecation among others.
Speaking during a panel discussion on the topic, ‘Partners Perspective on Sanitation Innovations for Economic Development,’ at the World Toilet Summit held recently in Abuja, Rezwan said African countries like Nigeria can convert the challenge of open defecation, which has become a menace in most cities into an opportunity and make it an economic enabler.
Rezwan said the critical factor is to have everyone across the sanitation sector working together in synergy to achieve the common goal and collectively facilitate the process of bringing it to fruition.
“We are working with the government in every way we can to achieve zero open defecation in Nigeria. As part of our agenda to drive innovative ideas that will ensure more people have access to clean toilets, we recently introduced a new product, which has made it possible for the masses to have access to a clean toilet. We will also continue to drive awareness through media and community programmes,” he said.
In his address, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that globally, an estimated two-thirds of people who lack access to basic sanitation services live in rural areas and nearly 50 percent of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.
He said that about 92 percent of the world’s population that is practising open defecation live in these areas.
Osinbajo said it is why the government has consistently affirmed its commitment to developing the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.
He said the government created a platform to coordinate private sector organisations in the wash sector known as the Organized Private Sector in Wash to ensure effective coordination of private sector interventions.
Jack Sim, the founder of the World Toilet Organization, expressed concern that over 2 million children and people die of diarrhea every year.
“It is serious that open defecation is everywhere and the standard of living of people cannot be improved if the challenge of open defecation is not discussed,” Sim said.