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News | 4 October 2018

The keys to successful joint ventures in Kenya

The title of the Kenya Water Day in Nairobi on 27 September was ‘Building Innovative and Effective Joint Ventures for a Sustainable Water Sector’. The Kenyan and Dutch water sectors were both well represented.

Success factors

After the official opening by Martine van Hoogstraten, Head of Development Cooperation at the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi, Ewout van Galen, Manager Operations at NWP, gave one of the keynote speeches. Throughout the day presentations and breakout sessions focused on the key factors that make for successful joint ventures in Kenya, namely: targeted funding, an innovative approach and knowledge of the existing institutional frameworks. This last point was addressed by Professor Albert Mumma, a legal expert in Kenya, who offered important insights and explained the do's and don’ts. 

New policy focus: the water-food-climate nexus

Joint ventures are seen as important mechanisms for the policy of the Embassy in the next four years, with the water-food-climate nexus playing a central role. Water and food security were previously treated as separate dossiers at the Embassy, but have been combined now. In August 2018 Sanne Willems was appointed as First Secretary for Water and Food Security at the Embassy. Sanne works closely with Rose Makenzi, Senior Policy Officer – Water and Food Security. In the past two years Sanne had Food Security in her portfolio, Water was added, whereby she took over the role of Noeke Ruiter.

Most important outcomes

Sanne and Rose look back on a successful day that resulted in the following key findings:

  • It is important to understand institutional and legal frameworks: To do business successfully in Kenya and avoid problems, it is essential to understand what the local institutional landscape looks like. It has changed considerably since the introduction of the new constitution in 2010 and the new Water Act in 2016. As Rose Makenzi says, “Roles and regulations are liable to change. So it is important to keep up with the latest developments.”
  • Trust is the basis for successful joint ventures: Building good relationships and trust are a priority. And, as one of the participants added, “Trust is based on a shared goal.” You can have a promising initiative and comply with all of the regulations, but without trust there is little point. 
  • Choose the right partners for each stage: Each stage of a business or project development process requires a different type of partner. It is therefore important to keep identifying the partners needed for the next step. For example, in many cases there is a need to find investors.    
  • Innovation is more than technology: Innovation is often associated with technology, but it involves more than that. Sanne Willems: “Innovation also includes new methodologies and approaches, such as the Water Operator Partnerships (WOS) between Dutch and Kenyan drinking water companies.” 

For more information about activities in Kenya, contact Annemarie Mastenbroek.