WINDHOEK: Namibia is in need of a water regulator to improve the tariff-setting process, and to enforce mechanisms for service providers to deliver sustainable services.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NamWater, Dr Vaino Shivute said during the Water Investment Conference on Thursday that the appointment of a regulator is one of the issues that need urgent attention.
“A regulator would protect customers against high prices, as well as services of poor quality,” he noted.
Shivute added that the regulator would come with good regulatory principles of independence, accountability, consistency, transparency, proportionality and equitable targeting of interventions.
Water tariffs are determined by Cabinet, while local authorities set their own tariffs, without having to consult the bulk supplier.
However, for years now, NamWater did not increase its water tariffs, but local authorities increased tariffs without informing the bulk water utility.
The regulator will not only control tariffs set by NamWater, but can also control water prices charged by local authorities and protect customers against high tariffs, Shivute reasoned.
The provision of water in Namibia is a commercial commodity, which means NamWater, which provides water to municipalities, local authorities and settlements needs to recover its operational costs of providing potable water.
This is also the same for municipalities and local authorities to its clients, or end-users.
The economic regulation of water service providers is, therefore, necessary to guard the equity principle, and to promote universal water services’ coverage that is an overarching target for the achievement of UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Shivute added that increased consumer participation will make the regulatory regime more pro-poor.
Other issues at NamWater that need urgent attention is a model to supply rural communities with water; a subsidy scheme for the poor; and the concept of a national tariff.
The conference ends Friday.