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South African drought creates demand for Finnish water solutions and expertise

The South African water supply is characterized by limited underground aquifers and by significant water transfers from neighboring nations. The scarcity and the growing need of water has created a gap between supply and demand that is visible across the country’s industries and homes. To improve the situation, South Africa now calls for sustainable water management and treatment solutions.

According to a base-case scenario, the estimated demand for water in South Africa will reach 17.7 billion cubic meters in 2030. On one hand, rising income levels, population growth and a national drive to improve basic living conditions increase the household demands of showers and toilets. On the other hand, water use in sectors such as mining, power generation and agriculture is growing in significance.

Currently, most of the South African municipalities have unsatisfactory wastewater treatment services and they struggle to maintain a high quality in the drinking water. Additionally, there is a growing need for wastewater sludge treatment in the agriculture sector.

If development trends continue, the combined population growth and business expansion will leave a 1-3 billion m3 or a 7-22 % water deficit per year by 2030, depending on which new supply systems are developed (WWF-SA 2016).

Call for improved efficiency, productivity and management

Closing the current gap between supply and demand requires technical improvements that increase supply and improve water productivity as well as increase energy efficiency. Furthermore, the set of underlying economic activities require a change as well.

The new solutions should cater to the specific economic and social needs of each particular region. For example, the focus of at least seven water-management areas in South Africa will be almost entirely on agricultural improvements, whereas economic centers such as Johannesburg and Cape Town will need to adopt industrial and domestic solutions.

Opportunities for Finnish companies in the South African Water Sector

The current water situation creates a range of opportunities for Finnish companies, which have a good reputation on the market. The required expertise include:

  • Advanced treatment technologies for water reuse, recycling and resource recovery.
  • Supplying, manufacturing and assembling components and systems used for water treatment and reuse.
  • Multiple innovation and investment opportunities related to energy used in water treatment as well as water used for energy generation.
  • Developing water security technology and decreasing the water costs.
  • Developing the management of water consumption of utilities and end-users towards water conservation and demand management.
  • Technical solutions that measure, report and control water consumption at all scales of use.

Business Finland’s upcoming activities

The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Jari Leppä, will lead a water and food delegation to South Africa (Gauteng and Cape Town) from 17-21 September. Focus areas are municipal or industrial water treatment as well as innovative materials and equipment. The delegation especially targets Gauteng, where there are several identified counterparts, and the Western Cape, where market actors have already shown interest.

Business Finland in South Africa works closely with local key stakeholders in the private, public, funding and financing sectors to organize relevant seminars, roundtables and B2B-meetings.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact:

Inês Mendes
Senior Advisor, Business Finland Southern Africa
+27 79 947 5235

For further information about the Cleantech program, please contact:

Nina Jacoby
Program Manager, Business Finland
+358 41 442 7786

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