The Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG) adopts an Integrated Development Master Plan (IDMP). This defines the strategic orientations and development priorities of the four (4) member countries (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal) for the next twenty years. The validation of this Master Plan is an unprecedented moment in the existence of OMVG as a regional organization. It has been the subject of several consultations and negotiations. It is also a crucial step and a major success in the implementation of the Blue Peace Financing Initiative.
Genesis of the initiative
The vision of the Blue Peace Financing Initiative is to create new ways for non-sovereign regional entities managing natural resources, such as river basin organizations, to access financial markets for investments in cross-border and multi-sectoral water cooperation. Preliminary exchanges with key financial stakeholders, including potential investors, have confirmed that the market has a strong appetite and interest in an innovative financing instrument such as the Blue Peace Bond.
This initiative has been launched since December 2019 with the signing by the President of the OMVG Council of Ministers of a resolution announcing OMVG’s partnership with Blue Peace partners – including the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNCDF and other institutions – on the exploration of innovative financing mechanisms including the Blue Peace financing initiative, to implement projects under its Master Plan (PDDI). A formal memorandum of understanding between OMVG and UNCDF was signed in the first half of 2020.
UNCDF, together with the SDC and the OMVG have seized the unique opportunity offered by the 9th World Water Forum (the world’s largest event on water) to officially launch the Blue Peace Financing Initiative. This initiative is a concrete action following a specific recommendation of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace on the creation of innovative financing mechanisms. The vision is to promote access to capital for non-sovereign entities by using water as an entry point for multi-stakeholder cooperation frameworks and transform them into investment platforms, which will lead to more sustainable economies and peaceful societies.
As a well-established River Basin Organization (RBO) with a legal framework that provides the necessary authority to raise and manage funds, OMVG is the first RBO to implement such an innovative financing mechanism and has proven to be ready to try new ways of financing. Through a technical assistance process, OMVG has been supported in the development of its master and joint investment plans.
“We are a strong institution with a long-standing history and strong political will and support from member states, but we are still facing challenges when it comes to mobilizing funds. We thank UNCDF and SDC for accompanying us on exploring innovative financing mechanisms, including the Blue Peace Financing Initiative, to implement projects in the context of our masterplan. This is really the way forward to build financial independence whereby we can implement projects without getting indebted.” said OMVG High Commissioner Mr. Lansana Fofana.
This masterplan is an important milestone for the Blue Peace Financing Initiative and is the result of an inclusive negotiation process between 4 countries and other relevant stakeholders as well as over 2 years of capacity building and Technical Assistance provided to OMVG by UNCDF. The projects identified in this masterplan provide the potential for direct and indirect impact to up to 6 Mio people in terms of providing access to water-related services, such as drinking water, energy, irrigation for agriculture and food security, WASH etc.
A multi-phase development of the OMVG Master Plan
Since the beginning of the project, 28 stakeholders’ meetings including regional consultations have been held to review the inception report, the diagnostic report, discuss the sectoral development plans, build integrated development scenarios, and finalize the masterplan.
In December 2021, the diagnostic report for the OMVG Master Plan, which presented the main cross-border challenges and development opportunities associated with the OMVG zone’s natural resources and sectoral economic uses, was validated (Phase 1). In June 2022, the six sector master plans were presented and validated (Phase 2). Sectors with the greatest potential and priority for the joint investment plan (portfolio) were identified, including energy, agriculture, drinking water and sanitation, shipping, forestry and municipal infrastructure. The final and third phase of the IDMP development, which aims to define possible development scenarios for the OMVG area, model these scenarios for comparison based on hydrological, environmental, social and economic indicators, and then define the IDMP (phase 3), was launched in July 2022 at a regional workshop in Banjul.
With the support of UNCDF, OMVG held a regional consultation workshop to validate the IDMP and the Joint Investment Plan from July 17 to 19, 2023 in Conakry. The aim was to present the Master Plan and its Joint Investment Plan: its strategic vision, its architecture, the action program, and the constitution of the Joint Investment Plan. The workshop enabled OMVG stakeholders to formulate recommendations and contributions to be incorporated into the final version of the Master Plan, and to have the validation by the member states.
The Potential Impact of the OMVG Master Plan
During the workshop in Conakry, the OMVG Integrated Development Master Plan was finalized and validated by the four countries, laying the foundation for a Joint Investment Plan (portfolio) that will be financed through the issuance of a Blue Peace Bond.
Over 180 projects (energy, agriculture, environment, river transport) have been identified through a rigorous process, resulting in a robust portfolio of selected projects proposed to the OMVG. The financing mechanism and the portfolio of projects were also presented to and endorsed by the OMVG Council of Ministers, as well as high ranked government officials from the Ministries of Finance of OMVG member states, underscoring the broad support for this ambitious initiative. Overall, this represents an important step in the effort to promote cross-border collaboration in the region for common and sustainable development.
The OMVG Masterplan will have the potential for a direct or indirect positive impact on up to 6 million people who live in the OMVG Master Plan space, which covers about 100 000 km2. The impact will be created a.o. through the development potential of 305 navigable water, 50000 ha of agro forestry lands, more than 2000 GwH of clean energy (hydro dams) and 2000 ha of national parcs.
“The implementation of this Master Plan, initiated by the OMVG High Commission, will have a positive impact on the improvement of the living conditions of the populations of the basin areas through its programs and projects which will allow, among others, the realization of various infrastructures and development actions. I would therefore like to express my deep gratitude to the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development and UNCDF, for their support to the implementation of this ambitious Master Plan“, expressed Mr. Aly Seydouba Soumah, Minister of Energy, Hydraulics and Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Guinea.
UNCDF is proud to accompany this process and will continue working with its partners towards unlocking public and private capital for better access to water-related services and to transform transboundary water cooperation frameworks into investment platforms through innovative blended finance mechanisms and financing instruments, such as Blue Peace Bonds.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).