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Promoting Smart Water Systems In Developing Countries Through Innovation Partnerships: Evidence From VIA Water-Supported Projects In Africa

Silas Mvulirwenande, Uta Wehn
Published 2019 · Business

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Over the past decades, the potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve water management has been demonstrated. However, the development and/or adoption of ICT-focused water innovations in developing countries does not seem to occur at the expected pace, which calls for suitable innovation approaches. This chapter investigates how these innovations can be fostered through partnerships. The explorative analysis of 24 ICT-focused water innovation partnerships (ICT-WIPs) implemented in Africa leads to two important findings. First, it appears that these partnerships enable effective exchange of complementary tangible and intangible resources and co-creation of ICT-focused water solutions in a cost-effective and timely manner but also pose collaboration challenges due to the heterogeneity of innovation partners. Second, the analysis demonstrates the importance of concurrent use of relational (trust-based) and structural (legally binding control-based) partnership governance mechanisms to mitigate these challenges, notably by reducing opportunistic behaviours and increasing clarity of partners’ commitments and rights. We conclude that well-designed and -implemented ICT-WIPs can contribute to enhancing the capabilities of developing countries to implement the smart water systems agenda.
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