South Africa Establishes Water Partnership Office

The plan is to emulate the renewables tender programme in the water sector.

By Liz Bains on
12th June 2023

South Africa is in the process of setting up an office to facilitate private investment in the water industry, the Bloomberg news agency reports.

The aim is to emulate the success of the country’s renewable energy independent power producers procurement programme in the water sector, which is in a dire condition after failing to keep pace with population growth.

Bloomberg writes that the Water Partnership Office (WPO) is being set up by the state-run Development Bank of Southern Africa, which also manages the renewables tender programme. Appointments to key positions are currently being made.

The WPO will initially focus on six priority areas including limiting water wastage, water reuse, wastewater treatment, water management contracts, seawater desalination and sanitation without the use of sewers. The plan is to build a pipeline of bankable projects to offer to private investors.

Key challenges in South Africa’s water sector include high rates of non-revenue water due to system losses from ageing distribution infrastructure and water quality concerns. A cholera outbreak took more than two dozen lives in Free State last month. The cause of the outbreak is suspected to be the pollution of river water sources by a badly maintained and overloaded sewage treatment works upstream.

The Minister Of Water And Sanitation Senzo Mchunu set out the scale of South Africa’s water problem during his May budget speech: “Many municipalities are in a downward spiral of poor and declining water services, reduced payment rate, increasing debt and low investment. To address this downward spiral, we need to ensure that water services are provided by professionally managed, capable, efficient and financially viable institutions. The key cause of the decline is poor governance and ineffective management in municipalities.”

Photo: Dam in South Africa (© Lancem71 | Dreamstime)

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