South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has issued a statement in which it commits to fostering public-private partnerships in order to develop mega water and sanitation infrastructure projects in the country.
The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Edward Senzo Mchunu, said the Department is partnering with mining houses in Limpopo and in the Northern Cape to implement mega infrastructure projects. Such projects include the recently launched R 24 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) Olifants Management Model (OMM) in Limpopo which involves the construction of a bulk pipeline from De Hoop Dam to Olifantspoort as well as from Flag Boshielo Dam to Mokgalakwena.
The OMM also includes water distribution infrastructure to 94 villages adjacent to the pipelines, which currently do not have access to consistent water supply. Minister Mchunu said that an agreement has been signed between the Department and the Lebalelo Water Users Association (LWUA) which stipulates that each party will fund 50 percent of the project, with LWUA as the implementing agent.
“We are also negotiating with mining houses in the Northern Cape to implement a similar joint project to refurbish and expand the Vaal Gamagara Water Scheme, which will include distribution of water to communities. The Scheme is expected to cost R 10 billion and as such, an agreement is currently being finalised,” explained Minister Mchunu.
To expand partnerships with other sectors, the Department is considering similar partnerships in the agricultural sector, for the Vaalharts and Oranje Riet irrigations schemes. The partnership with the agricultural sector aims to invest in the refurbishment and upgrades of strategic canal systems to sustain food production in the country.
Minister Mchunu said a Water Partnership Office with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has been established to support municipalities to enter into a public-private partnerships for water services.
The Water Partnership Office serve as a special purpose vehicle to facilitate partnerships and manage joint accounts for specific funding for projects implemented through collaboration.
The office also manages special programmes such as water conservation and demand management (particularly reducing non-revenue water), water reuse, wastewater treatment improvement and seawater desalination, amongst others.
Minister Mchunu reiterated his stance and commitment to ensure effective implementation of public-private partnerships as a way to enhance and improve on the delivery of water and sanitation services in different parts of the country.