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It is no longer understatement to say that the demand for water, the world second oil, is increasing exponentially both in urban and rural societies across the world. The increase exists substantially in developing continents of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Recent estimates show that sub-Saharan African women spend about 16 million hours each day fetching drinking water.  In Nigeria, women spent more than two hours every day fetching water for domestic usage.   WaterAid recently noted that Nigeria is the third on the list of top ten countries with the highest number of people living without access to safe water. This has been projected to create several negative impacts on the urbanized and ruralized people including industries in the next ten years. According to Open Data for Africa, 35.7% Nigerians access water through well while 20% sourced it through the river and well respectively. This indicates that Nigerians largely get their water through well and river sources. The same organisation lamented that over 57 million Nigerians cannot get drinking water in a day.

The bulk of these Nigerians resides in the northern states of Bauchi, Adamawa, Kogi, Borno, Kaduna, Sokoto and southern states of Cross River, Enugu, and Bayelsa.  By 2030, Nigeria and other countries in the world have been predicted to experience severe water stress because concerned stakeholders would find it difficult to meet additional 40% sustainable water needs of millions of people with the propensity of damaging their living standard. Increased urbanization, climate change and a dynamic shift in food consumption are the key determinants of the demand identified by the Nigeria Association of Hydrological Sciences (NAHS).

The Big Business of Water

Lagos and other commercial cities in the country with the rapid urbanization are likely to be affected by the growing demand. Lagos state with over 12 million people needs a sustainable water production, distribution, and consumption system. Investigation reveals that households in places like Orile-Iganmu, Igando, Ajegunle, Amukoko and FESTAC Town are experiencing critical water shortage daily, leaving them to the use of unsuitable water for human consumption from wells and boreholes. Existing statistics indicates that Lagos state government produces about 210 million gallons of water per day below the residents’ need of 540 million gallons. Throughout the world, water scarcity is an opportunity for business minded people most importantly in urban areas with high population and growing middle-income group. Expert says N199 invested in water generates N796 return. For instance, a recent study found that average Nigerians are ready to pay N737 for water usage per month.

Attainment of the country’s policy of utilization of available water for optimum, long-term, an environmentally sustainable socio-economic benefit for the entire populace depends on the collective efforts of the government at all levels and water resources professionals such as hydrologists and water resources engineers.   It has been estimated that by 2036, stakeholders in water industry; regions and sectors would spend between $50 and $60 billion on water productivity improvements. The bulk of the spending has been said to be from private sector companies that need water the most. Besides domestic water usage, energy, extractive and chemical, and product manufacturing industries need a great volume of water for their operations. To produce quality products for consumers, food and Beverage Company relies on access to clean water. In its recent report, Mckinsey discovers that high-tech companies, power suppliers, agriculture, forestry, mining, and pharmaceuticals are at the high risk. In 2004, Pepsi Bottling and Coca-Cola shut down because household farmers were competing with them for water. To avert such risk, SABMiller spends $500,000 in each of its location, according to the latest report.

Closing the identified water demands and scarcity, Nigeria needs companies like Banyan Water  and Water Access Rwanda who have using varied business strategies helping their immediate communities in conserving and using water sustainably. In its 2015 report, Banyan Water announced saving of over 2 billion gallons of water since the company’s emergence. Warwanda on its part is providing a platform that increases rural household access to clean water and addressing consequences of drinking unclean ones.