Africa: Water infrastructure development opportunities to grow

Jan. 28, 2011
Jan. 28, 2011 -- Israel and the United States are just two of several highly developed countries that have identified Africa as a primary market for actively pursuing investment in water infrastructure development...

Jan. 28, 2011 -- Israel and the United States are just two of several highly developed countries that have identified Africa as a primary market for actively pursuing investment in water infrastructure development. Increased water consumption by industry, agriculture and growing urban populations around the globe are providing unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and investment, particularly in Africa's water industry.

Water infrastructure projects in Africa are attracting many foreign companies which are ready to partner with local companies and utilities to develop collection, purification and distribution projects worth many billions of dollars.

"A steady flow of foreign investment has extended a lifeline to a number of substantial projects in the public and private water sectors across Africa, and this is set to increase as water shortages become more acute in future," says John Thomson, Managing Director of Exhibition Management Services, organisers of the WaterTec Africa 2011 Expo. "WaterTec Africa offers an unrivalled platform for facilitating partnerships between local and international companies, while showcasing the latest products and technologies and sharing expertise," adds Thomson. WaterTec Africa runs from 7 to 9 June at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Gauteng.

Or Pearl - Head of Trade at the Embassy of IsraelIsrael to share water knowledge with Africa"Israel understands the strategic importance of dealing with water challenges," says Or Pearl, Head of Trade at the Embassy of Israel. "Africa's challenges are no different and Israel sees Africa as a strategic market."

The country has ambitious plans to double its water technology exports to US$3-billion by 2012. Exported products and technologies will target the coal, copper and gold mining industry in Southern Africa, Brazil, Chile and Australia.

Israel has an impressive track record in water technology; the small Middle Eastern country is the world's number one water recycler, and home to the world's largest and most efficient reverse osmosis (RO) sea water desalination plant. And, Israel's average annual water consumption has remained the same since the 1960s despite a growing population, rising water demand and increased agricultural production.

"Israeli companies are actively pursuing a number of opportunities in Africa's water industry," adds Pearl. "These include such items as water leakage and security technologies, advanced wastewater treatment and desalination systems, new water production techniques, system integrators and equipment for large scale biological arrays low in capital, algae harvesting and processing, and allied machinery and filtration equipment."

According to Pearl, Israel is already involved in various projects throughout Africa, especially in the planning and design of large-scale turnkey projects in Angola, Botswana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa. These developments vary from large scale national water conveyers and desalination plants, to water leakage solutions, industrial water treatment plants and supplying potable water.

Pearl, who was present at WaterTec Africa 2009, will be present at WaterTec Africa 2011 and reaffirms the importance of this event: "I expect to meet industry leaders in the area of industrial water treatment and water utilities and expand our network in that field."

There is a growing demand in Africa for Israeli products. "The roll out of solar water heaters in Africa is making progress," adds Pearl. "The rebates offered by Eskom take into account the efficiency of the systems, which puts Israeli vendors on top of the list in South Africa." Another important area is water treatment solutions for Acid Mine Drainage in South Africa, especially RO desalination technologies. "This has major spill-over opportunities involving large scale desalination projects planned in South Africa and the rest of Africa."

Johan van Rensburg - Senior Commercial Specialist at the US Embassy Significant ProspectsJohan van Rensburg, Senior Commercial Specialist at the US Embassy, echoes Pearl's sentiment. "With the Department of Water Affairs setting targets of producing up to 10% of all water from desalination by 2030, there are significant prospects for U.S. suppliers. Purification, monitoring, filtering, pumping and reticulation management are just some of the growth opportunities," says van Rensburg.

Prospects for desalination in South Africa are excellent. All coastal cities have access to seawater and energy, either from thermal or hydro sources. In Gauteng, the imminent Acid Mine Drainage problem may see another desalination application as a solution.

The US has technologies focusing on the desalination of mining wastewater and seawater, according to van Rensburg. Three US companies already represented in South Africa are Adel Wiggins Group, Harvard Corporation and Hach Corporation. Van Rensburg is encouraging other US suppliers interested in exploring municipal wastewater opportunities to identify potential wastewater partners in South Africa. Areas worth considering as potential prospects for water equipment and technologies include narrow filtration, reverse osmosis and UV radiation.

"We plan to use WaterTec Africa as a networking platform to identify potential partners and customers for U.S. companies," concludes van Rensburg.

Richard Holden - Strategic Business Analyst at the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA)Richard Holden, Strategic Business Analyst at the state-owned Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), confirms that the water sector is looking for overseas knowledge, products and services to help improve and expand South Africa's water sector infrastructure whilst facing up to the challenge of a finite water resource and the threat that pollution, such as Acid Mine Drainage, poses. It has been recognised that financial sustainability, through the charging of an economic tariff, is key to achieving a viable water sector across the entire country, not just in the major urban areas. Coupled with financial sustainability is the need to develop processes and systems that can provide support to personnel to rural areas, where it is difficult to attract professional staff. Lessons learned from other countries will be invaluable in helping South Africa decide how to overcome these challenges.

WaterTec Africa is the continent's leading international water technology exhibition and conference. It is co-located with the seventh international Pumps Valves and Pipes Africa (PVPA) exhibition.

Contact details
For more information on the exhibition, contact Penni Will at Exhibition Management Services. Tel: +27-11-783-7250. Fax: +27-11-783-7269. Email: [email protected] Website:

For more information on desalination, contact Or Pearl, e-mail [email protected].