South Africa is a water-scarce country, and demand for water is projected to outstrip supply by 2030. This will mean technical solutions will have to be found, such as water saving technologies that in turn will require investment. Also, water and wastewater infrastructure backlog needs to filled.
Coping with future changes in climate and ensuring water security while water demand increases and existing infrastructure needs renewal will create big investment opportunities. The 2017-18 drought in the Western Cape has made citizens and authorities alike aware of the need for more effective and efficient water management.
Demand for technologies and services that enable resilience to water scarcity has increased across all markets, and new investment opportunities have opened up in four key areas: water metering and monitoring; water efficiency; water reuse; and alternative water supply. As much of the technology is imported, opportunities lie in investment in import substitution and even in local production for export.
The demand for smart water metering systems is increasing across the private sector, as a tool for improved water management.
The potential market for water conservation and water demand management projects in South African metros is estimated around R2 billion a year, of which R500 million is unfunded.
Water reuse in the industrial sector presents opportunities for both technology and service providers. New residential and commercial property developments in the province are a key market for water efficient devices and greywater reuse systems. Municipalities are increasingly interested in reusing their wastewater.
On alternative water sources, groundwater and rainwater systems offer a number of opportunities across all private sector markets. In coastal areas, large-scale seawater desalination is an emerging market with the prospect of high equity investment returns – globally, equity returns in desalination projects are typically at least 14%, with higher returns (up to 18%) expected in higher risk countries.