1. Why is water investment in South Africa particularly important? (government hosted a water investment conference towards the end of last year, for example) 

Some would say that South Africa doesn’t have a water crisis but a governance crisis. Of course, the current situation facing Cape Town is quite real and declining rainfall over the past 4 years has contributed significantly to the crisis they find themselves in, but the problem is also a human and social problem.

Humans are the primary users and managers of water. Human responses and skills are needed to manage the leaks and maintenance required in key infrastructure. Human capacity is needed to make decisions around governance and management of water resources. South Africa has good, even world class infrastructure in some cases, but this needs to be complimented with the human infrastructure to manage these and manage wider water systems. South Africa is prone to droughts and these episodes are going to become more frequent. South Africa needs to be ready and investment needs to be proactive and not reactive.

2. Can you provide a breakdown of the global situation?

The private sector needs to become involved in water investment, both in technological and infrastructure support, but also in the human capacity development. At the water investment conference in December 2017, the then Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, called on the private sector to invest into the water and sanitation sector. In her address to the conference she quoted, “The water sector in South Africa has been registered as a critical player in the World Economic Forum on new models in promoting investment in water and sanitation and appreciating waste water as a new gold.”

This comes as water shortage in South Africa has become a critical issue, with 186 municipalities owing a total of R10.7 billion to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for water supply, of which R3.9 billion is owed to the Water Trading Entity (WTE) of DWS, and R6.8 billion is owed to various water boards. Of the top 30 municipalities who have outstanding debt, Vhembe District Municipality is ranked the highest – with R 642 876 734 owed.

These are issues which need to be solved and managed by human individuals but these amounts are too overwhelming for a few people hence the urgent call for private sector to become involved.

 3. What is water investment?

Water investment can either be in technical and infrastructure development or human capacity development. Both are needed for viable and sustainable solutions in South Africa. At Monash South Africa (MSA) we focus on the human capacity development aspects through offering postgraduate education programmes.

4. What are the pros and cons of water investment?

Proactive planning and investment in water is critical as opposed to reactive investment. Reactive investment in some cases may lead to over inflated prices for products and infrastructure given the urgency of the need or lead to unsustainable or incompatible solutions.

5. How can you go about investing in this sector?

Working in the Private Higher Education Sector we believe there is no better investment than education and human capacity development. At MSA we offer an executive Postgraduate Diploma in Water Management designed to build future water leaders. This education programme focuses on the technical and human dimensions of water management and aim to provide holistic solutions to complex real-world water problems.

For more information on the Postgraduate Diploma in Water Management at Monash South Africa visit the programme’s page.