The private sector is ready and willing to work together with the government in partnerships that could help stem the shrinking water supply in South Africa.
Mike Peo, Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Telecoms at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, sees great opportunities in this space.
“Both water and energy are reaching critical crisis points, but we do have an opportunity to help fill the gap.”
“The slowdown in industry, while not good for the economy, has given the country some time to fund and focus on energy infrastructure, while developing renewable energy. The next big sector is the water sector.”
Encouraged by the success of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), Peo suggested that a water IPP-style office could be set up in the Department of Energy, or within the National Treasury, with a specific focus on water.
Peo said projects could focus on building infrastructure and managing and conserving water more efficiently in South Africa, one of the 30 driest countries in the world.
South Africa had not invested enough in bulk infrastructure, while much of it was also wearing down. This has led to a lot of wastage of water. A third of water in South Africa’s system doesn’t get to the people, as it’s lost through leaking pipes. The quality of the water is also compromised.
“We can’t control the rainfall. What we can do is build infrastructure and fix leaking and broken infrastructure, much of which hasn’t been replaced or fixed for more than twenty years,” said Peo.
Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, said recently that the government has agreed to intensify work towards leak detection, leak repairs and maintenance, to reduce water losses, as well as deal decisively with wastage.
Peo agrees that it’s imperative to take action sooner rather than later.
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