South African-born company joins global symposium on future of water

South African-born water treatment company GAST Clearwater was recently invited to join the prestigious Goldman Sachs Water Symposium in New York, where it discussed the numerous benefits of its next-generation water treatment technology – a revolutionary system that has been dubbed the “Tesla” of water treatment.

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Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development gives climate advisory for 2022/23 summer

The majority of the country is currently reporting poor to reasonable veld and livestock conditions. Summer rainfall areas began receiving some rain, mostly later in October and farmers are preparing land for planting. Parts of the Western Cape, extreme western areas of the Northern Cape and the Sarah Baartman District of the Eastern Cape continue to experience dry conditions. The average level of major dams remains high in most provinces.

According to the Seasonal Climate Watch issued by the South African Weather Service, dated 1 November 2022, above-normal rainfall is expected for most parts of the country for the summer season. Minimum temperatures are expected to be above-normal countrywide, however, maximum temperatures are expected to be below-normal over large parts of the country during the entire summer.

The October Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported that Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become more widespread in areas of southern Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique, as well as areas of Angola and much of Zimbabwe due to compounding impacts of poor 2021/22 rainfall, tropical cyclones, and domestic economic declines that started in October.

Food security outcomes are expected to be most severe in southwestern Madagascar, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes also started in October. The population in need is likely to steadily increase through early 2023. Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and northern Mozambique remains the primary driver of acute food insecurity with the disruption to livelihood activities. In Mozambique, the Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces experienced an escalation of militia attacks in September.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 15 400 people were displaced between late August and late September. In the DRC, the security situation in the eastern provinces continues to deteriorate, especially in Ituri. Households in conflict-affected areas continue experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and face difficulty engaging in the upcoming agricultural season.

FEWS NET further reported that across the region, poor households are engaging in off-season income-earning activities. While opportunities are currently limited, they were expected to improve to near-normal levels in October as land preparation started in most areas. November through December will likely see further improvements in agricultural activities, including planting. Predicted La Niña conditions are typically associated with average to above-average rainfall in Southern Africa. They will likely improve the availability of agricultural labour opportunities in most of the region.

However, in areas like southern Madagascar, income from agricultural labour opportunities will remain lower than normal as better-off households have lower liquidity following consecutive droughts. Food prices are increasing as more households rely on markets for food, especially in areas where production deficits were observed in 2022.

This year, price increases have been accelerated by high fuel prices linked to high global prices, according to FEWS NET. Prices of maize grain are 70% to 180% above the five-year average in Malawi and up to 42% higher than the average in Mozambique. In the DRC and Zimbabwe, food prices are expected to remain above the five-year average throughout the lean season.

In Madagascar’s southern drought-affected areas, dried cassava prices are 67% higher than average. In most countries, inflation has also been increasing, likely triggering more price increases for food. Poor households in the most deficit areas will continue struggling to access food commodities on the market due to weak purchasing power.

[The IPC is a set of standardised tools that aims at providing a “common currency” for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity.]

With the current conditions in mind, as well as the seasonal forecast, dryland farmers are advised to wait for sufficient moisture before planting and remain within the planting window. Farmers in areas that have been constantly experiencing dry conditions should prioritise drought-tolerant cultivars. In regions that are in reasonable condition, farmers are advised to prepare in line with the expected conditions, i.e., in line with the seasonal forecast.

However, they should not expand planting land unnecessarily. In addition, farmers should note that rainfall distribution remains a challenge, therefore not all areas might receive the anticipated above-normal rainfall that is well distributed.

Farmers are also advised to put measures in place for pests and diseases associated with wet and hot conditions as above-normal rainfall is anticipated. Moreover, it is important for farmers to follow the weather forecast regularly so as to make informed decisions. Farmers using irrigation should comply with water restrictions in their areas. Farmers must continually conserve resources in accordance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Act No. 43 of 1983).

Farmers are advised to keep livestock in balance with carrying capacity of the veld, and provide additional feed such as relevant licks. Livestock should be provided with enough water points on the farm as well as shelter during bad weather conditions. Winter rainfall areas are becoming drier, increasing favourable conditions for veld fires. Therefore, the creation and maintenance of fire belts through mechanical means should be prioritised along with adherence to veld fire warnings.

Episodes of flooding resulting from rain bearing weather systems have occurred and will continue; precautionary measures should be in place. Heat waves have been reported and will occur during summer and therefore measures to combat these should be prepared. Farmers are encouraged to implement strategies provided in the early warning information issued.

The department will partner with all relevant stakeholders to continue raising awareness in the sector and capacitation of farmers on understanding, interpretation and utilisation of early-warning information for disaster risk mitigation and response.

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SA is staring down the barrel of a water security crisis predicted decades ago – expert

Amid ongoing restrictions in Gauteng, experts have highlighted that water security in the whole of South Africa is under threat — a fact that has been known for the past two decades.

By Julia Evans Follow

“We are staring down the barrel,” said Professor Anthony Turton, a water resource management specialist at the University of Free State, at a public engagement on 26 October with Joburg residents and water specialists about the ongoing water crisis in Gauteng. This is despite Rand Water CEO Sipho Mosai emphasising at a media briefing recently that there is more than enough water going into the system.

The City of Joburg and Rand Water have been at pains to say that the recent water shortages in parts of Gauteng were initially caused by power failures (not scheduled load shedding) at two of Rand Water’s purification plants in Vereeniging in late September and then exacerbated by scheduled rolling blackouts.

Simon Xaba, the general manager of operations at Rand Water, told the press: “It is my opinion that if you have this frequent load shedding, you are technically fiddling with the stability of power.”

But while power plays an integral role in getting water pumped into reservoirs, Turton emphasised that experts in the water sector had known for the last two decades that South Africa would face a water deficit in the future.

They predicted in 2002 that by 2025 South Africa would need 63 billion cubic metres to service demand for the country despite only having 38 billion cubic metres of water accessible in dams.

Turton, the former vice-chair of the research advisory panel for the National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS) at the CSIR, explained that the first NWRS  — which was published in 2004, but the technical team had been workshopping the data since 2002 — is the most definitive study of the balance between water demand and supply South Africa has seen. At the time, the technical team quantified the country’s total water volume at 53 billion cubic metres.

The 2004 NWRS stated: “If we look forward to the year 2025, even if we factor in further infrastructure development, we find that several additional water management areas will most likely be in a situation of water deficit.”

There have been two NWRSes since, one in 2013 and one that came out this year, which is still under public review. Both used the same data as the first report.

Since then, independent peer-reviewed studies have used sophisticated mathematical modelling to revise SA’s total water volume from 53 billion cubic metres to 48 billion cubic metres. Turton explained that the number is lower in part because of climate change and the more sophisticated modelling system.

However, the accessible water in South Africa’s dams amounts to just 38 billion cubic metres.

This is because we can’t use water that is known in legal terms as the reserve. The reserve consists of two components: water in reserve needed for basic human needs, which is 25 litres per person per day that has to be left in the river if there is no piped water available in that area; and the ecological reserve, which is needed to sustain the ecological functionality of the ecosystem. 

So, assuming that the dams are full and that no storage capacity has been lost to sediment, South Africa has access to 38 billion cubic metres of water. But we need 63 billion cubic metres of water to service demand by 2025.

Even in 2008, WWF South Africa warned that 98% of available water resources was already fully used and the country could run out of water by 2025.

“This doesn’t mean the taps will run dry, but that water-intensive industries won’t be able to continue working as before and there may be water rationing,” said the chief executive of WWF South Africa, Morné du Plessis, in a media briefing in 2008.

“What we’re saying about water today [in 2008] is what the energy people were saying to the government 10 years ago,” Du Plessis said.

What does running out of water actually mean?

We’ve technically already run out of water.

Even though dams are full right now — the Vaal Dam is at 92% capacity — we’ve run out of water that is allowed to be allocated.

“When we say we ran out of water, we mean we have run out of water to allocate, that the demand for the licences for that water exceeds the available supply,” explained Turton. 

In 2002, the technical team working on the first NWRS said that 98% of the total volume available in SA’s 19 water management areas had already been allocated.

“We’ve given authorisations for water — for paper and pulp mills and oil refineries, etc — they’re all got their allocation of water, and then we’ve  allocated more water than we have available,” said Turton.

He explained that the allocation, known as ELU (existing lawful use), goes to lawful users of water as defined by the National Water Act.

“The sum of those ELU allocations equalled 98% of the known supply, with some water management areas being over-allocated by 120%,” said Turton. 

The first NWRS broke down SA’s water allocation to 62% for agricultural irrigation, 27% for domestic and urban requirements, 8% for mining, large industries and power generation, and 3% for commercial forestry plantations.

“The reason why the [Vaal] dam is full is because we’ve got to keep it for the years when we don’t have water — for the dry years,” explained Turton.

“We work on long-term averages and long-term trends. And the long-term trend was we ran out of water in 2002.”

Credit: National Water Resource Strategy 2004

As explained in the first NWRS, the “total water available includes the total local yield plus water transferred from elsewhere”. 

Turton said technical specialists in the water sector had known about this for 20 years but had been ignored.

Government needs to step up 

Dr Ferial Adam, manager of the civil action organisation WaterCAN, emphasised at the public meeting on 26 October that the problem lies in poor planning, failing infrastructure, underspending and sewage pollution. 

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s 2022 Blue Drop Report, 52% of SA’s water supply systems are in the medium to critical risk groups, 60% don’t comply with microbiological standards and 77% don’t comply with chemical standards.

The 2022 Green Drop Report classified about 60% of SA’s wastewater treatment works as being in a “poor to critical” state, and only 23 out of 995 wastewater systems qualified for Green Drop certification.

At its recent media briefing, Rand Water emphasised that South Africa, and Gauteng specifically, has high water consumption rates compared with the rest of the world, and while imploring the media not to make it seem that it was blaming consumers, encouraged a culture of conservation.

Rand Water reported that water consumption in South Africa is 233 litres per capita per day, which is relatively high compared with the world average of 173 per capita per day. 

And in Gauteng, 305 litres per capita per day is consumed during peak demand times.

However, Adam said Rand Water had failed to emphasise that this high consumption is because of extreme water losses — the last available Rand Water data indicates that 40% of water is lost due to leakages.

So, out of the 4 900 megalitres that Rand Water supplies every day, almost 2 000 megalitres are lost because of leaking pipes and ageing infrastructure.

Turton agreed that the consumption numbers Rand Water supplied were misleading — breaking down the numbers as such:

If Rand Water pumps 4.900-million litres to 17-million people, and 40% is lost to water leaks and 10% is allocated to commercial users, it’s actually 160 litres per person per day, which is below the global average and far below the estimated Gauteng consumption.

The 2019 National Water and Sanitation Master Plan reported that municipalities were losing about 1,660 million cubic metres of water per year.

As water costs R6 per cubic metre, this amounts to R9.9-billion lost annually.

Adam emphasised that only 46% of South Africans have a tap in their home and the government needs to step up, because we are “pumping water into an empty bucket”.


Turton said that even though it might seem that the situation is dire, there is a solution.

He emphasised that water is an infinitely renewable resource, and as a renewable source. “All we have to do is recycle our total national water resource 1.6 times, and then we won’t have a water crisis any more. In fact, we can then have full employment.”

We need to multiply the 38 billion cubic metres that are available in the dams by 1.6 to meet the upcoming demand of 63 billion cubic metres, which can be done by recycling the country’s total water resources.

However, to do that, we need policy certainty for the recovery, reuse and recycling of water — and at the moment we don’t have that policy.

Turton said that because we don’t have this policy, “we don’t have an enabling environment for capital and technology to come into the space”. 

“If we had to have a policy that accepts that water is an infinitely renewable resource, we would see targets being set. And so, for example, if you were to set a target that over the next 20 years we have to recycle our water source 1.6 times, but you start off with a smaller target and then ramp up over time to this bigger target.”

Turton explained that at the moment all of our water is treated to South African National Standard (Sans) 241.

“Whether you flush your toilet with it, whether you wash your car with it, whether you cool down your industrial process plant with it, whether you irrigate your garden with it, whether you drink it, it’s all the same standard water. 

“Now, that doesn’t make sense,” he said.

So, we need a policy change, which has to come from the government.

Turton added that we can recover water from sewage — SA produces five billion litres of sewage every day — and that water can be recovered, not as drinking water, but recycled back to non-drinking uses like cooling down boilers or irrigating public gardens.

Turton said we should also implement a “dual-stream reticulation economy”, which means having two pipes for every end user — one that supplies standardised drinking water and one that provides grey water.

“So, it will be safe to use, but it’s not drinking water. And that’s what you flush your toilet with, that’s what you want to water the garden with,” explained Turton.

Turton emphasised that all water supplied by entities like Rand Water or Umgeni Water is Sans 241 standard, but only 1% of that is for drinking.

Turton suggests that instead, we treat 1% to the highest standard, but then we treat the rest to a standard that is safe, but not necessarily a drinking standard. 

“That’s the direction we should go in,” said Turton. “And, at the moment, there’s just no insight into this possibility by any government leader. They keep on following the same old pattern of just building another dam and just blaming the public.” 

Article courtesy Daily Maverick

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Build green to benefit your business and the planet

Loadshedding, and increasingly also water-supply interruptions, are wreaking havoc with the lives and livelihoods of South Africans. Investing in green buildings, however, could rescue your bottom line as much as the planet, especially with the innovative financing available to entrepreneurs.

This is according to Gugu Mjadu, marketing executive general manager at specialist financier for small and medium enterprises, Business Partners Limited, who says it is a good thing that South Africa was an early adopter of the green building movement. “The Green Building Council South Africa was founded in 2007, in 2008 the Green Star SA rating system was launched and the first certification, for phase two of Nedbank’s head office in Sandton, was awarded in 2009,” she says.

Mjadu reflects on some of the statistics from Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) which indicate that by October 2022, South Africa had 905 certified green building developments; 165 of them completed in the past year, compared to the five years it took for the first 50.

“The impact of the 905 certifications is awe-inspiring: for instance, the 1 320-million kWh/annum energy saved is enough to power 91 500 households per year. The 1 220-million litres of water saved is enough to meet 1 672 800 people’s daily drinking water needs every year whereas the 1 590-million kgCO2/annum carbon saved is equal to 395 400 fewer cars on the roads every year. South Africa is definitely contributing to saving the planet,” Mjadu adds.

Even with those statistics, many entrepreneurs are still not sold on investing in green buildings. Mjadu says it should be an easy decision to make, particularly now with the ever-rising cost of doing business. She says, “Apart from benefitting the environment and sustainability, green-certified buildings offer excellent commercial value: operating costs are lower due to water and energy savings. Also, according to MSCI South African Green Annual Property Index green buildings attract and retain tenants far more effectively than their conventional counterparts.”

Greening your buildings also leads to more productivity and well-rested employees. “According to a 2015 Harvard-led study, workers in green, well-ventilated offices recorded a 101% increase in brain function scores when employees who work in offices with windows sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night according to an American Academy of Sleep Medicine report from 2013,” explains Mjadu.

Even if environmental sustainability is not your main concern, the rapidly rising cost of water and electricity, combined with unreliable supplies and the financial impact of disruptions on your business, is a powerful case in favour of green investment. The only question therefore that remains is if you can afford to invest in a green building or development.

“Considering the challenges that many businesses are facing and the fact that there is a wide range of  highly attractive financing options available, you have a winning strategy for either converting an existing building or development or constructing something new,” says Mjadu. She adds that in terms of affordability, it is important to bear in mind that green no longer means too expensive.

“According to the International Finance Corporation, the average premium for a building to achieve green building status is 4.4% of total Capex.”

Two reports mentioned on the GBCSA website bear this out. An international study involving 180 buildings, found the premium to be between 0% and 4%, while a South African study of eight local and 11 international buildings, found it to be between 1% and 10%. This data was collected from a small sample of buildings, all having been built early in the green building movement. All indications are that green building costs are rapidly becoming on par with the capital required to build a conventional structure.

Funding options

Mjadu explains that the Business Partners Limited’s Green Buildings Finance Programme provides up to 100% property finance, ranging from R500 000 to R50-million, to established entrepreneurs with a viable business who want to invest in green buildings and achieve green building certification.

The company finances the purchase, construction, and/or retrofit of buildings if their designs are certified under an eligible green building certification. The finance programme’s main focus is on industrial and retail spaces, but residential property developments, hotels, schools, hospitals, offices and mixed-use buildings also qualify.

“Considering that Business Partners Ltd offers entrepreneurs a rebate of up to 40 percent of the capital expenditure needed to green their buildings and the cost of green certification is covered by a non-refundable grant of up to R150 000, there is no better time than now to go green for your buildings,” Mjadu concludes.

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South Africa’s biggest cities are out of water, but the dams are full. What’s gone wrong?

South Africa’s main cities in the Gauteng Province – the country’s economic heartland – are experiencing major water shortages. In Johannesburg and Tshwane taps have run dry, with numerous areas experiencing intermittent supply while some areas have no water at all.

By Anja du Plessis, Associate Professor and Research Specialist in Integrated Water Resource Management, University of South Africa

The province has metropolitan areas – the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. All are affected. Rand Water, the water authority for the region, has imposed restrictions of 30%. This will be revisited when the system recovers. The last water shutdown was in November 2021 when Rand Water cut off water for 54 hours so that it could to do infrastructure maintenance. There were also restrictions during the drought in 2015-2017.

The province serves as a perfect example of how an area can experience water shortages and intermittent supply even though dams are full.

The biggest problem lies with decaying infrastructure. This includes water storage, water supply and treatment. In addition water resources are poorly managed. And there’s been poor planning, a lack of financing to maintain ageing infrastructure and to keep up with rapid urbanisation.

The crisis in Gauteng has been developing over many decades. The water and sanitation infrastructure in Johannesburg is old – some water pipes were installed nearly a century ago. In addition, there’s been exponential growth – of businesses and the population.

Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province, but contributes 45% to the country’s total economic output. All economic sectors have expanded in the past decades.

The province’s population has also increased to just over 16 million – up from 12 million in 2011.

Rand Water has indicated that high water consumption is to blame for the current shortages. Estimates suggest that water consumption in Gauteng per person per day is over 300 litres, well above the global average of 173 litres. Importantly, this estimate includes non-revenue water – water that’s lost before it reaches the consumer.

The Gauteng Province is unfortunately finding itself in a perfect storm of major intermittent water supply due to continued power blackouts, high temperatures leading to above average water use as well as major continued water losses through bursting pipes and major leaks due to dilapidated infrastructure.

There’s an urgent need to put water higher on the country’s agenda. Various water problems are escalating at a rapid rate.

The decline

The quality of water infrastructure in South Africa is deemed to be below average and deteriorating in comparison to comparable countries such as Nigeria and Zambia.

A number of factors have contributed to the current state of affairs.

Firstly, the poor quality of infrastructure. This is attributed to insufficient long-term planning, poor construction techniques and materials as well as the poor maintenance of existing infrastructure.

South Africa’s infrastructure is mostly aged (more than two decades old), in a state of decay. In its 2017 infrastructure report card the South African Institution of Civil Engineering concluded that the country’s infrastructure was at risk due to its low overall grade of D+.

Secondly, the management of consumption has been poor. South Africa is a water scarce country. Yet the average domestic water use is estimated at 237 litres per person per day, 64 litres higher than the international benchmark of 173 litres per person per day.

High consumption is partly attributed to high municipal non-revenue water. This stands at 41% This means that 41% of water is lost due to leakages owing to poor operation and maintenance of existing aged water infrastructure, commercial losses caused by meter manipulation or other forms of water theft and lastly, unbilled authorised consumption such as firefighting.

Global best practice is 15% .

Thirdly, a lack of institutional capacity at a local level has limited the capability of local governments to provide infrastructure. Low expenditure levels on infrastructure investment is evidence of these capacity deficits despite the national government continuously emphasising the need for more investment.

Fourthly, there has been massive under funding for decades. This has led to decay and in some instances a collapse of infrastructure. Government spending on infrastructure reached its peak in the 1960s to late 1970s. There was then a steady decline from 1977. In 2000, the country’s per capita spending on infrastructure reached a 40-year low and warnings were issued about the condition of bulk water and sanitation infrastructure.

By 2002 the country’s infrastructure stock was at similar levels to that of 1973.

Other factors contributing to the current crisis include poor management (at national and local level), delays in implementation, insufficient institutional capacity and competence and a lack of political will.

Fifth, a multi-layered and complex system of managing water resources. Numerous stakeholders at different levels of government play a role in the management of water resources.

The Department of Water and Sanitation is the custodian of the country’s water. It is ultimately responsible for ensuring that water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled effectively. The development and management of national water resource infrastructure also forms part of the department’s functions.

Other managing agents include catchment management agencies (managing water resources at a regional or catchment scale), water user institutions (providing the institutional structure) as well as water service authorities which include local government and municipalities, water utilities and private firms responsible for governing domestic water supply services.

Johannesburg Water therefore sources water from Rand Water, which supplies potable water to the Gauteng Province and other areas. The City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg Water, for example, are responsible for dealing with growing demands and the management of the delivery and services.

What’s needed

The following steps should be considered to try and ensure continued suitable water supply within the Gauteng Province as well as other areas experiencing the same issues:

  • A suitable budget needs to be made available immediately to address priority areas. Proper planning and informed actions, not just promises, is a major requirement. Johannesburg Water estimated in 2020 that R88 billion was required for the replacement of infrastructure with a total renewal backlog of R20.4 billion.

The entity has been allocated a R3.3 billion multi-year capital budget aimed at replacing water and sewer pipes, upgrading water storage infrastructure, a wastewater treatment works programme and lastly, repairing and maintaining outdated infrastructure. A further R2.3 billion has also been allocated to address burst pipes across the province.

This amount of money might be a suitable investment to address the dilapidated state of infrastructure. But it should have been assigned much sooner.

  • Dilapidated infrastructure needs to be upgraded and properly maintained. The lack of maintenance has contributed to leaking pipes and faulty infrastructure which now needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency as it contributes to major physical water losses. This won’t solve the problem overnight given that there have been decades of neglect. But a start needs to be made.
  • Capacity constraints or lack of skills need to be identified and addressed.
  • Private sector investment in water infrastructure needs to be incentivised together with the promotion of private-public partnerships.
  • Implementation of water conservation and demand management.
  • Political will to move away from simply providing infrastructure to maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing infrastructure.

Article courtesy The Conversation

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Minister Gwede Mantashe: Council for Geoscience Summit

Remarks by the Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe, Council for Geoscience Summit, Durban ICC, 25 October 2022

“It is a very proud moment to bear witness and partake in the celebration of 110 years since the formation of the Council for Geoscience (CGS). The entity has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1912 as the Geological Survey of the country. Coincidentally, the year of 1912 also marks the birth of the governing party, the African National Congress. The two organisations lived through the same history of the country but perhaps at different extremes of the spectrum.

The establishment of the CGS came shortly after the Union of South Africa was formed. It was no coincidence that the CGS, a s microcosm of society, found itself entangled as a repository of privilege for the minority. The dawn of a constitutional democratic dispensation  brought  about  hope for a truly democratic, non-sexist, and non-racial environment in which the current shape and form of the CGS has found expression.

As we convene to celebrate the historical and current contribution of the geosciences to human development, we also consider the next 110 years of even greater scientific contribution.

Increasingly, science evidence has become the cornerstone of policy formulation for the country, the African continent, and the world.

Our nation is faced with challenges which require a more pre-eminent role of the geosciences to find expression in addressing these societal challenges. These challenges include, albeit not limited to energy security, just energy transition, sustainable food supply, economic growth, climate change challenge, disaster management that arises from natural phenomenon such as floods and earthquakes.

You may recall that the host province of Kwa-Zulu Natal recently experienced the most devastating disaster that demolished houses and infrastructure. It has never been more important for any infrastructure development to consider geo-technical conditions appropriately prior to effecting such development.

It is precisely in this context that the amendment of the Geoscience Act empowered the CGS to review all geo-technical reports and provide appropriate advice to the local authorities in consideration of their infrastructure development programmes. I call upon our municipalities to imbue this notion in their by-laws to augment their service delivery programmes to the satisfaction of the people they serve.

The Geoscience Act also empowered the CGS to undertake exploration. I am expecting them to work with the private sector to re-catalyse the exploration activities in the country, in line with the geological potential. As the world’s economic trajectory demands new suite of minerals deemed to be critical minerals for lower carbon footprint, there had never been a better time for the geoscience communities to work together and prepare to unravel the possibilities of South Africa as a source of these minerals, advanced in the manner that optimizes the benefit for the people of the country.

The lead role of the CGS in the Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) gives us hope that our Just Energy Transition programme can be attained with one of our most valuable commodity that has provided base load for the country. Our commitment to the international protocol on climate change remains resolute. Our transition from high to low carbon emissions might be achieved with coal as part of the solution, if the hypothesis of clean coal is proven.

We have allocated an additional R500 million to the CGS in the current cycle of MTEF to accelerate geo-mapping in support for exploration. I encourage collaboration with academia and private sector to unleash the true potential of the country.

Earlier this year, we published the Geoscience Act Regulations to enable the CGS as a true custodian and repository of the geoscientific data and information, the heritage of the country. The CGS must give confidence to the generators of this data and information that it is managed professionally and with the sensitivity it deserves. They have assured me that they have developed systems, processes, and procedures to effect this responsibility with distinction.

South Africa has been a mining for over 150 years, during which time a lot of geoscientific information had been collected. This information, which was collected by some companies that have since departed our shores, is not readily available to the State. I have confidence that you will rise to the national call of duty.

I am informed that the Russian delegation of geoscientists is here to not only celebrate with us, but to also foster strategic partnership on both bilateral basis as well as exploration of multi-lateralism. I am also informed that the members of academia, the private sector, Geological Society of South Africa, the Chinese representation as well as the Organisation of African Geological Surveys are here. This demonstrates the importance of strategic partnerships in fostering the coalescence of the willing, as you individually and jointly seek to accelerate the significance of geosciences in finding lasting solutions.

Whilst, we have made environmental preservation a Constitutional prerogative, our attempt to achieve this objective ought not be executed at the expense of development. There’s no reason why conservation and development cannot be mutually reinforcing, as the two are not binary in character. As the members of the geoscientific community, I implore you to design your programmes in a manner that will advance the notion of co-existence between these two.

As we seek all manner of sources of sustainable energy sources, such sources as geothermal must be considered in South Africa. The preliminary research undertaken by the CGS illuminates this prospect, albeit at early stages. Every effort must be put into confirming the prospects, so that we can enrich our energy basket.

The use of seismic survey as an instrument of research is well developed as a geoscientific instrument, spanning both terrestrial and marine applications. It would appear that the South African citizenry is oblivious to this knowledge as a result of which, there are critical decisions that are taken within the country that delay possibilities of allowing us to explore and develop the hydrocarbon prospects in our shores. It is incumbent upon the geoscientific community to educate members of society about this hidden treasure of the nation, the geoscientific prowess.

Ladies and gentlemen, an occasion of this nature requires us to blow our own horn a little bit. Not many institutions live to tell of 110 years of existence and still maintain their relevance. The CGS was relevant in 1912 and has become even more relevant today. In recent years, personnel of the CGS have contributed extensively to the development of South Africa, the African continent and internationally.

Internationally, this contribution has been through their involvement in international mapping projects in a number of African countries, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates, amongst others.

On the continent, the CGS continues to actively participate in a variety of Southern African Development Community projects aimed at promoting the economic development of the African subcontinent. In this regard, the organisation has contributed significantly in the development of geoscience knowledge on the continent. Accordingly, it was instrumental in the founding, and still plays an active role in the activities of, the Organisation of African Geological Surveys.

As we look onto the future, it is envisaged that the CGS will play a key role in providing geoscientific solutions to several challenges facing our country and the continent.

It is expected that the  CGS will play a technical role  in addressing the urgent problems of water ingress and Acid Mine Drainage that we have inherited because of historical unsustainable mining practices.   

Moreover, there are challenges of water scarcity in many parts of the country which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The problem of illegal mining has engulfed the country. We have been consistent that this is a crime and there can be no room for such activity is South Africa. Accordingly, I appreciate the responsiveness of the CGS in speedily developing illegal mining tracker © technique using geoscientific techniques, which will detect illegal mining activities well in advance and communicated with the law enforcement authorities to deal with such activities timely.

The CGS is actively involved in assessing the negative impacts of the mining industry as well as other human activities on our water resources. This is achieved by conducting episodic and continuous monitoring and by providing support and recommendations to institutions and other government departments. Furthermore, the CGS is actively involved in water-related research and the development of local skilled manpower in collaboration with several institutions including the Water Research Commission, the CSIR, the Department of Water Affairs, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Housing Development Agency, Sanral, and the South African National Research Foundation.

The government’s multibillion infrastructure build programme will require CGS and the geo-technical community to play an acute role in safe-guarding the integrity of critical infrastructure investment.

It is essential that infrastructural development be accompanied by sound geotechnical investigations and information. As the national mandated authority in respect of geo-hazards related to infrastructure development, the CGS should in future ensure safe development on hazardous ground, by verifying that all necessary steps of the appropriate geotechnical investigations are performed prior to any housing  and  infrastructure  development.

I am proud to note that the CGS is already undertaking work in this area of geotechnical investigation reports on potentially unstable dolomitic areas identified for the construction of RDP houses and will be expected to participate in government’s infrastructural development programme.

As we modernise geological mapping, a greater need for rapid collection, interpretation, and integration of mapping data as well as the dissemination of the products to clients and stakeholders in digital formats accessible via the internet,  has never been more pronounced.  The rapid  collection of comprehensive data will also facilitate a more pro-active approach to planning and development. The CGS is indeed integral to government planning and this needs to be elevated as we move to reposition this organisation. We have taken a deliberate decision to resource the CGS to embed applications of artificial intelligence in the context of the fourth industrial revolution. Training of 30 drone pilots is indeed applauded and positioned the CGS along the development trajectory sought to optimise partnerships and impact on its mandatory  deliverables.

Whilst it is safe to assume that this centennial year of the CGS will usher in changes to many aspects of the organisation, clearly the future success of the CGS will depend on how successfully it provides solutions to the changing needs of the community it serves. However, I have confidence that the CGS will gain strength in its journey as it continues to build on past successes and adapts itself to the ever-changing global landscape of the earth sciences. As a science institution, the organisation can only increase its success by expanding its partnerships in the geoscientific environment.

Let me conclude by congratulating the staff of the CGS on 110 years of proud achievements as well as the broader geoscientific community. May the next 110 years be better, and may you contribute greatly to the wellbeing of South Africa and its people.”

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South African shopping centres prepare for long-term water security measures

Even though Cape Town narrowly escaped a drought four years ago, water scarcity still plagues most of South Africa. Recent research from the Water Resources Group suggests the lack of available water will worsen in the next few years with a third of the world’s population expected to be living in significant water stress come 2030.

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Minister Mchunu: “Increase private sector involvement in water services to achieve the SDG goals”

Minister Senzo Mchunu addresses International Water Association World Water Congress

Minister Senzo Mchunu says there is a need to increase private sector involvement in water services to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Minister Mchunu spoke at the International Water Association (IWA) World Water Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 12 September. This year, the global summit focused on Innovative Funding for SDGs and Climate Change. Minister Mchunu was invited by the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Flemming MØller Mortensen and the Danish Minister for Environment, Ms. Lea Wermalin, to present at the high-level summit and to share South Africa’s experiences.

During the visit, Minister Mchunu also strengthened the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, a programme run by the Department’s Director-General, Dr. Sean Phillips. In his speech, Minister Mchunu indicated that some of the challenges that hinder achieving the SDGs are the way municipalities run water and sanitation services.

Minister Mchunu explained that municipal water supply is supposed to be managed as a self-sustaining business, with maintenance, operation and refurbishment costs covered by revenue from the sale of water. “In many municipalities, water and sanitation services are in a poor state and deteriorating,” said Minister Mchunu. “And the percentage of the population with access to reliable and safe water and sanitation services is declining.

“Causes include weak governance and corruption, poor billing and revenue collection, poor asset management, operations management, maintenance and a lack of recruitment of people with the required qualifications and experience.” The Minister said where there is a constraint in the municipalities in terms of finance and expertise, there is substantial expertise in the private sector and banks and pension funds.

“However, private sector involvement in municipal water and sanitation services is considerably low compared to other middle-income countries. The reason for this is a lack of capacity in municipalities to take bankable projects to the market, coupled with a Public Private Partnership (PPP) regulatory framework, which means it takes 8-12 years to facilitate a PPP.

“In this context, we are doing two key things, a) Putting in place public-private collaboration agreements with industries, such as the mines and agriculture, for joint funding of infrastructure projects. This agreement will simultaneously provide bulk water to industry and reticulated water to communities, and b) putting in place a Water Partnerships Office (WPO) to assist municipalities [on how] to contract for PPP and independent water producers (IWPs),” he elaborated. 

The WPO is a ringfenced entity in the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the work of such a WPO will be assisted by reforms of the PPP regulatory framework currently being finalized by the National Treasury.

Minister Mchunu concluded by assuring all relevant stakeholders that South Africa is keen to learn from the experience of other countries as it embarks on this journey.

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Rolls-Royce to release mtu marine engines in 2023 for sustainable fuels

Rolls-Royce is setting another milestone on the road to climate-neutral shipping with the approval of its Series 2000 and Series 4000 mtu marine diesel engines in 2023 for use with sustainable fuels.

Following successful bench and field tests, the Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems will gradually be approving its Series 2000 and Series 4000 mtu marine engines for EN15940 synthetic diesel fuels from the beginning of 2023. These fuels include the sustainable fuels BtL (Biomass to Liquid), HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil/renewable diesel) and PtL (Power to Liquid) such as e-diesel. They can all replace conventional diesel fuel, which is made from fossil petroleum, without any adjustments in these engines. Last year Rolls-Royce pledged to prove that the Series 2000 and Series 4000, its most popular in-production engines, can be used with sustainable fuels.

“There is already a lot of interest now from many customers in the marine industry who want to improve their carbon footprint, particularly with HVO,” explained Denise Kurtulus, Vice President Global Marine at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “Results from pilot customers show significant reductions in greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions by using HVO instead of fossil diesel.” The engines are used, for example, in ferries, workboats and large yachts.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems is initially developing methanol engines based on the mtu Series 4000 and will launch them for yachts, tugs, ferries and workboats from 2026. With green methanol from renewable energies, CO2-neutral operation will be possible.

41 000 hours with HVO

“Since 2019, we have been successfully testing the use of HVO (renewable diesel) with mtu engines in six ferries in our fleet,” stated Jim Swindler, General Manager of Golden Gate Ferry in San Francisco (California). The tests in over 41 000 operating hours confirmed, that when HVO is used, mtu engines perform as outstandingly as diesel – in terms of maximum power, load acceptance and fuel consumption. “And the visible smoke that was seen at the dock with conventional diesel has been reduced with the switch to HVO.” Four other shipping companies in the US are currently testing the use of HVO with their mtu engines. HVO is a drop-in fuel, which means that the previous diesel system infrastructure can be used unchanged for its use, and no engine hardware or software modifications are required.

Rolls-Royce will be launching the mtu Hybrid Propulsion Pack for the engines of the mtu Series 2000 and Series 4000 from 2023. It offers flexible propulsion solutions for yachts, ferries, tugs and windfarm vessels and provides a power range from 1,119kW to 4,300kW by the diesel engines plus 165kW to 743kW by the electric motors per drive train.

HVO use significantly reduces CO2, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions

Waste vegetable and animal fats and used vegetable oils can be used as base materials for HVO, which are converted into hydrocarbons by means of a catalytic reaction with the addition of hydrogen. Through this process, the fats and vegetable oils are adapted in their properties to diesel fuel and can supplement it as an admixture or replace it completely. The benefits of HVO are clean combustion with reductions in particulate emissions of up to 80 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by an average of eight percent, and (depending on the manufacturing process and feedstock) CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared to fossil diesel. Because HVO fuel is produced from renewable raw materials, its production, transport and combustion only generate about as many greenhouse gases as were absorbed by the plants during the growth of the biomass.

Target: 35% greenhouse gas reduction with new fuels and mtu technologies by 2030

Rolls-Royce announced in 2021, as part of its sustainability program, that it would realign its product portfolio so that by 2030, new fuels and mtu technologies can save 35 percent greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2019. “We have realigned our offering for the maritime industry to actively support ship operators on their journey to Net Zero,” explained Denise Kurtulus. The company is now working on methanol engines and fuel cell systems for shipping and developing electrolysers to produce green hydrogen.

Rolls-Royce will deliver mtu Series 4000 gensets similar to the one pictured for the F126 frigates, bedded on specialist mounts and surrounded by an acoustic enclosure. Not pictured: the mtu SCR system for fulfilling the IMO III emissions directive.

Learn more about sustainable mtu solutions for shipping in: Pioneering the Journey to Net Zero (

Rolls-Royce has completely realigned its mtu portfolio for marine applications to actively support customers on their path to Net zero. The company is working on methanol engines and fuel cell systems for marine use and is developing electrolysers to produce green hydrogen. According to a clear roadmap, marine diesel propulsion systems will gradually be released for sustainable EN15940 fuels, such as HVO, from the beginning of 2023.
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Greening SADC towards Vision 2030

Keynote address by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), Barbara Creecy, at the Nedbank-NBF Networking Forum

It is an honour and privilege for me to address this important Networking Forum which will give all of us an opportunity  to share views on the green economy and the  just transition of the SADC region to a low carbon economy and a climate resilient society.  If we are to appropriately position our discussion around the opportunities of the green economy and the correct location of the just transition, it is important to begin our discussion today with an adequate understanding of the physical and transition risks that climate change poses for Southern Africa.

The latest climate science documented in the Sixth International Panel on Climate Change Report released in April this year documents the physical risk that climate change poses to Southern African countries and cautions that its impact is already denting economic growth.

The report explains the Earth’s average surface temperature has already warmed by over one degree centigrade since pre-industrial times. Furthermore, Southern Africa is warming at twice the average global rate and the report estimates temperature increases of over two degrees centigrade. 

What we now all know with certainty is that climate change is already part of our lived reality: floods, severe storms, drought, heatwaves and uncontrolled fire impact our region and already threaten lives, agricultural production, water security, tourism, health, infrastructure, ecosystems and biodiversity.

In addition to the physical risk, Southern African economies also face a transition risk associated with climate change. As the major economies transition to new green technologies they will seek to protect their investments by introducing trade barriers to goods and services produced in economies with a higher carbon foot print. Obviously the South African economy, with its reliance on coal fired energy generation is most at risk.

In the shift to more sustainable industries, be they in mining, manufacturing or electricity generation, we need to ensure that in our country and broader region  are not left behind. Southern Africa is uniquely positioned to benefit from the opportunities in the green economy and one will say more about this later. However, this will require a paradigm shift in our approach to development and government priorities so we mitigate our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and begin the long road to adapting to the impacts that lie ahead. 

Because we know that climate change affects the whole of society, business, and government, we have to find a way to develop a whole of society response that will allow all interested parties and stakeholders to participate. 

In this regard, the Presidential Climate Commission established in October 2020 is instructive. Representing government, business, organised labour and civil society this body can now boast its role in developing South Africa’s revised NDCs, concluding a Just Transition Framework and researching pathways for transitioning several sectors of the SA economy severely impacted upon by climate change. Consideration will need to be given at this forum on the appropriateness of this model for the SADC community.

Overarching framework legislation will also be important for SADC countries to guide all levels of government, multiple departments and different stakeholders within a common climate change response strategy. 

In this regard South Africa’s Climate Bill which is currently under consideration in the National Assembly offers a template for discussion today.  Our own experience is that one can only achieve so much on a voluntary basis. In developing countries with limited budgets and infinite need, without a regulatory environment one will always find climate priorities fall lower down the agenda.

The Paris Agreement to which the SADC countries are signatories require participating governments to take three measures to deal with climate change namely  mitigation meaning a contribution to reducing green house gases; adaptation to the realities of climate change and means of implementation which translates to allocating financial and technical resources to implement climate change responses.

While climate change will have a major impact on countries in the SADC region, it is important to understand that this region only contributes 2% to global emission levels, with South Africa responsible for the majority of these emissions, mostly due to the country’s reliance on coal-fired plants for electricity generation. 

In this regard, it is safe to say that SADC countries are mainly focused in the multi -national negotiations on the impact climate change is having on their countries. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the global climate change regime has become more contested between developed and developing nations as we enter the implementation phase of the Convention. 

Developing countries, including our SADC region, have demonstrated a gesture of goodwill to the world community by acceding to target setting through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) commitments.  

However contestation remains intense when it comes to the convention having a clear work plan on adaptation, an approach to loss and damage and of course on the vexed issue of means of implementation.  

In this regard developing countries are concerned about the burden climate change mitigation and adaptation will place on already vulnerable economies. Concern also relates to the fact that developed countries have not yet honoured historical financial commitments to developing countries, let alone engaged in the future requirements!

The revised SADC Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2020-2030) was adopted in June 2021. The document identifies key sectors in the region that can contribute to the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient future. These include, energy, land use, forestry, agriculture, transport  and waste.

In the action plan the energy sector is identified as a “low hanging fruit” due to the opportunity provided for a downturn in emissions and a shift towards increased uptake of renewable energy generation. According to the Southern African Power Pool, 62% of power generation in the region is from coal, and only 32% of the rural population in the region have access to electricity. 

Whereas South Africa enjoys relatively widespread electrification, many other countries in SADC suffer from energy poverty due to insufficient generation capacity, and general lack of access. 

Energy generation is therefore recognised in the strategy as an important area of focus both in relation to shifting South Africa’s electricity generation to a greener energy mix, and meeting the energy poverty needs of the rest of SADC.

The SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, launched in 2016, was established to oversee and upscale implementation of renewable energy and efficient energy generation. The centre manages a number of concurrent projects including a renewable energy entrepreneurship support facility, and the development of H2 Atlas Africa   – the Atlas of Green Hydrogen Generation Potential in Africa.

The SADC Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan also acknowledges that the region’s forestry resources have the potential to act as significant carbon sinks. The SADC region’s size, and the fact that it includes the massive Congo rainforest, means that it is home to almost 394 million hectares of forest and similar biological formations. 

If these natural resources were to be adequately protected and integrated into the climate change adaptation and development planning agendas of SADC member states, they could act as climate sinks contributing to the climate change mitigation strategies of member states. In order to harness the potential of this sector in the region, SADC aims to promote sustainable forestry management and restoration through transboundary community management of forests.

These are just two sectors that are being considered in SADC’s planning towards the greening of the regional economy in the hope of meeting development objectives and mainstreaming climate change adaptation. 

Our region has abundant resources that we must employ in our transition to a low-carbon future. Events such as today’s are crucial in determining how we can harness this potential, and how we can develop partnerships that ensure that our region is not  just a spectator in the shift to a green economy.

Before I conclude it is important to say a few words on the concept of a justice in the climate transition. All research points to the fact that climate change affects those living and working in vulnerable economic sectors differently.

Accordingly, the Presidential Climate Commission tells us everyone affected must be part of developing the solutions and there must be an equitable distribution of risks and opportunities so that vulnerable workers and communities do not carry the burden of change. Climate transitions will only succeed in the SADC region if they help us with our broader developmental objectives, namely, economic inclusion, employment and building a more equal society.

This will require active labour markets that can meet emerging human resource needs; social protection for vulnerable individuals and households; economic diversification for at risk sectors as well as effective governance and finance.

We recognise the role of our regional bodies such as SADC Secretariat and NEPAD in advancing our developmental agenda in the context of sustainable development. Through the SADC mechanism, our primary mandate is to pursue an accelerated sustainable development of the SADC economy. We take note of the critical role played by other bodies as well such as the NEPAD. Going forward it will important for us to forge a concerted regional scale implementation framework for the Just Transition in the interest of our countries.

Today’s event is convened under the thematic  title  “Greening SADC towards Vision 2030 – Coordinating public and private sector collaboration to accelerate SADC’s just transition strategy”.  

We devote our presence here today to listen to perspectives from participants on finding plausible alternatives to attain 2030 vision aspirations in the context of our various mandates both in the private and public sectors. 

The perspectives we hear will no doubt be as diverse and multifaceted as the SADC region itself. What is needed in the face of the climate crisis in concerted action and new, fresh ideas that ensure that our region is not caught unprepared in the years ahead. 

I would like to end with a quote from the young African climate change activist Vanessa Nakate:

Climate change is more than statistics; it’s more than data points. It’s more than net-zero targets. It’s about the people, those that are being impacted right now.

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