WATER: Water Challenges – High on Africa’s Agenda
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Africa’s electricity crisis may soon be surpassed by a bigger challenge – water. Climate change, population growth and increasing demand for water by agriculture and industry are becoming a serious challenge to the continent’s water supplies.
Only eight of the 53 countries in Africa are expected to meet the United Nations Environment Programme’s Millennium Development Goal target to halve the number of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015. Those eight countries are Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, South Africa, Angola and Botswana.
In addition, only 26 African countries will reach the MDG target to halve the number of Africans without sustainable access to drinking water by 2015.
Investment in new and efficient water technologies is urgently needed.
A 2007 Global Impact Assessment Report on Climate Change found that drinking water for 2.6 billion people worldwide was already under threat. It predicted that by 2020, about 250 million people in Africa would be exposed to increased ‘water stress’, and the continent would experience an acute water shortage in Africa by 2050.
Conference and Workshops focus on challenges and opportunities
To discuss the challenges and possible solutions to these, a two-day water industry conference will take place on 7 and 8 June at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg. The event runs alongside the WaterTec Africa exhibition.
The event will bring together governments, stakeholders, water experts, equipment manufacturers, suppliers and consultants.
African Water Association
The African Water Association (AfWA) will deliver the keynote address at the Conference, outlining the current status of water supply and sanitation in Africa. AfWA represents 80 water and sanitation utilities from 35 countries across Africa.
According to AfWA’s secretary-general, Sylvain Usher, the Association aims to promote visibility, advocacy and formalisation of partnerships, and positively influence public policies in the water and sanitation sector. “The most important issues in Africa are to improve water policy management, clarify a definition and domain for the private sector and source new funding to modernise water infrastructure,” says Usher. “There is also a severe skills shortage, particularly in management, long-term strategic planning and financial management.”
Water Projects in Africa
The two-day conference, chaired by Paul Runge, Managing Director of Africa Project Access, will also highlight water projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, with participation from a number of High Commissions in Africa, including Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
There are also many projects in planning or underway in South Africa, such as the Mokolo and Crocodile River water augmentation project by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority; and a Department of Water Affairs project to raise the Hazelmere Dam to augment supply to the KwaZulu Natal North Coast.
Also, the proposed implementation of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands water project will augment the Vaal River system that supplies water to Gauteng and surrounding areas. This is scheduled for completion in 2020.
Other countries involved in water projects include Angola, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Nigeria, Kenya and Malawi.
SAAWU Workshops – more Expertise for Future Demand
“The South African water sector desperately needs overseas knowledge, products and services to help improve and expand South Africa’s water sector infrastructure,” says Richard Holden, spokesperson for the South African Association of Water Utilities (SAAWU).
As an endorser of the WaterTec Africa 2011 exhibition, SAAWU will hold several technical workshops at WaterTec Africa 2011. WaterTec Africa is co-located with Pumps, Valves and Pipes Africa (PVPA) and Petro.t.ex Africa; at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, from 7 to 9 June 2011.
“I urge all SAAWU members to register and attend, as the workshops will cover topics that are of interest to our members and provide opportunities for networking with overseas experts, manufacturers and suppliers,” adds Holden.
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