We have good news for South Africans after two years of strategizing, planning and engaging with government and water industry stakeholders. We have managed to elevate water to a national priority sector in the newly announced Public-Private Growth Initiative, so that we can reverse the water shortages of today and avoid those of tomorrow.

The Public-Private Growth initiative (PPGI) announced yesterday by Doctor Johan van Zyl (private sponsor) and by Minister Dlamini-Zuma (public sponsor, also charged with executing the NDP) show the commitment of government and business to the goal of high economic growth in an inclusive economy.

The PPGI partnership have agreed that it is necessary to set South Africa on a path that will achieve 5% annual growth within five years so that we can bridge the poverty gap and ensure a dignified and prosperous South Africa for all our citizens. The PPGI is designed to identify and mitigate policy and governance inhibitors so that growth across 18 key sectors can reinvigorate our stumbling economy. Because the Water Shortage team so strongly believe that the water sector is the fundamental economic enabler of the National Development Plan (NDP) we have successfully lobbied for the water sector to be included amongst the PPGI’s top 18 sectors.

What does this mean for the water sector? The PPGI requires the submission by each sector by early April 2019 of a five year plan with KPIs that will address the three greatest inhibitors of growth for that sector, so that the plan can be taken into consideration in the 2020/21 national budget cycle. This is a challenge as the current National Water Resource Strategy 2 (NWRS 2) has not been updated since 2013 and is now out of sync with current conditions.

Without a relevant national water strategy it will be difficult to put such a plan together in such a short time, but the PPGI stakeholders have explicitly agreed to be an action and implementation initiative and not a talk shop. The plan will have to be bold as the backlog in required water infrastructure was already R870bn in 2015, and is now estimated to be R1 trillion.

The timing of this intervention is absolutely crucial as our energy sector is struggling, climate change is making it more difficult to predict water resource changes, water resource pollution by failed sewage works is reducing available water and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) is making its mark. A fresh approach is needed as our water reserve is already fully allocated, making the traditional rainfall, surface and groundwater capture paradigm an outdated water resource strategy. The way to change our water resource paradigm from Scarcity to Abundance is core to the proposed five year plan. This aligns perfectly to the idea of a circular water economy as opposed to the limitations of the current linear economy.

The Water-Energy nexus is more evident than ever as we see intermittent supply preventing pumping stations from keeping reservoirs full, and sewerage works unable to treat more than 15% of our effluent. We believe that we have rightfully raised water to at least the same level of importance and urgency to our government stakeholders as enjoyed by the energy crisis. We can now work towards mitigating a water shortage crisis that would be far more catastrophic than the current energy crisis.

Without the very necessary financial lubricants we cannot carry this important project through, and we thank our citizens and businesses for the moral and financial support that will lead us to water resilience and make our country an international destination for investment.

There is hope and we will catalytically maintain it for us all.

About Water Shortage South Africa
Water Shortage South Africa is a lobbying group and think tank on water issues, drawing on the expertise of academic and business leaders and the support of affected South African citizens to represent their interests in civil society and to government. This registered not-for-profit company was established to raise awareness about the risk factors that threaten the water security of South Africans and to facilitate solutions through consultation, research and awareness. When it comes to water it holds to a “Paradigm of Abundance” rather than the outdated “Paradigm of Scarcity” that limits solutions and economic growth.

Spokespeople on this issue:
Benoit Le Roy Chief Executive Officer
082 414 5289 benoit@watershortagesa.com

Media inquiries:
Jacques van Schoor Public Relations Officer
083 325 8727 jacques@watershortagesa.com

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