Zambia’s water and sanitation sector is undergoing a significant shift from a traditional infrastructure-centric approach to a model that emphasizes excellence, efficiency, and sustainability. The objective is to improve services in a sustainable manner, with the collective goal of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. The Utility of the Future program is a strategic initiative that is driving this transformation and setting new standards for utility management in the region. This section will explore the program’s impact on Zambia’s utilities, highlighting the importance of adaptive leadership, inclusive engagement strategies, and innovative solutions.

The Utility of the Future program: A strategic shift in sustainable utility management

The Utility of the Future program is a forward-looking journey that emphasizes making every employee an integral part of the transformation process. The program has had a significant impact on Zambia’s utilities, with testimonials from their own leaders highlighting the behavioral changes and performance improvements resulting from the program. The program has brought efficiencies in financial management and human capital utilization, enabling utilities to deliver their mandate in a more efficient manner. This program is a strategic shift towards sustainable utility management, setting new standards for utility management in the region.

From urgency to sustainability: A new era of efficiency and expansion in Zambia’s water sector

The Zambia Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Diagnostic study highlighted critical inefficiencies hindering the nation’s goal of universal water and sanitation access by 2030. The findings emphasized the need for a shift from focusing on infrastructure investment to improving utility efficiency, reducing nonrevenue water, and enhancing financial viability through operational improvements and technological innovations. The Utility of the Future program has exposed diverse challenges, stressing the necessity for adaptive leadership, inclusive engagement strategies, and innovative solutions to surpass traditional barriers. Zambian utilities have demonstrated commitment to addressing internal challenges and setting a precedent for innovation within the region. The program aims to mitigate financial losses from non-revenue water and improve billing efficiency, redefining utility management and service delivery in Zambia.

The World Bank’s involvement in driving this transformation has been instrumental, focusing on making utilities more efficient and extending their services to reach not just urban but also peri-urban and rural communities. The proposed Water and Sanitation Services in Growth Centers project is designed to incentivize improvements in selected commercial utilities’ operational capabilities and strengthen their ability to attract private sector investments by demonstrating improved creditworthiness. This will help to decrease dependency on public funding, ensuring that water and sanitation services across Zambia are sustainable and accessible to all, including those in peri-urban and rural locales.

In summary, the Utility of the Future program is driving a strategic shift towards sustainable utility management in Zambia’s water and sanitation sector. The program’s impact on Zambia’s utilities highlights the importance of adaptive leadership, inclusive engagement strategies, and innovative solutions. The program aims to mitigate financial losses from non-revenue water and improve billing efficiency, redefining utility management and service delivery in Zambia. The proposed Water and Sanitation Services in Growth Centers project is designed to incentivize improvements in selected commercial utilities’ operational capabilities, ensuring that water and sanitation services across Zambia are sustainable and accessible to all.