The water shortage appears to be partly connected to the rapid growth of Gabon’s urban population. Libreville is home to more than half of Gabon’s 1.5 million population and the city’s rapid grow in recent years has put a strain on the state water and electricity company.
SEEG (Société d’énergie et d’eau du Gabon) has ability to keep adequately supplied with electricity and water. According to official statistics, Libreville had a population of more than 700 000 in 2007, but it is believed that this number has swelled to 800 000 since then.
Libreville’s urban infrastructure has been unable to keep pace with this expansion. SEEG currently serve households with a combined population of 550 000 in Libreville.
The privatisation of SEEG in 1997 and a doubling of capital investment by its new French Owner Veolia, has failed to ensure that supply keeps pace with a rapid growth in demand.
At first, SEEG officials were quick to blame the current water shortage on factors beyond their control, such as exceptionally low rainfall and a surge in water demand from Libreville’s hotels last year. In fact, low rainfall meant the company was only able to treat 12 000 cubic metre of waters a day, well below its treatment capacity of 126 000 cubic metres a day.
But Libreville is not the only town in this densely forested country to suffer water supply problems. The first week of March, hundred of Libreville resident massed in front of SEEG building in Libreville to protest against Water shortage.
Meanwhile SEEG is working hard to address these supply challenges. It invested 12.1 billion CFA francs (24 millions US dollars) on extending water distribution in 2007, and to invest again 600 billion CFA francs from this year to resolve water supply and electricity problems in the whole country.
SEEG has sold 74,1 millions cubic metres of drinking water in 2007. The number of subscribers for drinking water moved from 10 7 089 in 2006 to 113 932 in 2007.
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