Bigen, a socio-economic development company driving socio-economic change through innovative infrastructure development solutions, observes World Water Day with passionate support for its 2021 theme – “Valuing water”.
Every year, World Water Day spurs people and organisations across the globe to take action and raise awareness of water related issues. This year the focus extends beyond issues of water pricing to include the environmental, social and cultural value people place on water.
Bigen, through its extensive infrastructure development experience of half a century, has gained an in-depth insight into the socio-economic hardships suffered in Africa due to inadequate clean water provision. For many communities, such as those in Africa’s water-scarce regions, “valuing water” is a daily reality experienced through inadequate water availability and security. In many growing communities, water security and consumer health are also impaired by inadequate local sanitation.
In full alignment with the message of World Water Day, Bigen’s purpose of “doing good while doing business” ensures a proactive approach to improving lives on the continent, especially disadvantaged communities where accessing potable water by simply opening a tap is not possible. We do not always value water in our daily lives even knowing that it is physically impossible to sustain life without water. But this is not only true for living organisms as sustainable water supply is also an absolute prerequisite for economic growth in agriculture, industrial, mining, and other economic activities.
Bigen’s Water & Sanitation directorate therefore partners with multiple African governments and industries in meeting their corporate and development goals, such as the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure, to improve quality of life and sustain economic growth. Besides providing tailored solutions for sourcing, transferring, treating, and reusing water and effluent cost-effectively, Bigen adds further value by maximising the immediate to long-term economic benefit for local communities. This is achieved through the localisation of employment, supplier, and contract opportunities on every project, as well as training provision.
Through Bigen’s water projects, millions of people across the continent have access to potable water and sanitation and hundreds of local people have been empowered through training and skills development and are now gainfully employed.
One of Bigen’s game-changing water supply projects is the 360km North-South Carrier (NSC) water transfer project in Botswana, for which Bigen was named the winner in the Best International Project category of the Consulting Engineers South Africa annual awards in 2015.
"Water means life, and it’s a phrase that means so much more in an arid country such as Botswana,” comments Dr Mias van der Walt, Managing Director of Bigen’s Water & Sanitation directorate. “People’s lives are improved in many ways once they have access to adequate and reliable water. Because of the extent of the work on the NSC, we realised that this was a project of national importance and that the quality and durability of the solution were equally crucial.”
Bigen’s broad water and sanitation capability further enables it to deliver diverse projects such as the Palapye water treatment works upgrade along the NSC, the Potsdam water treatment and reclamation works in Cape Town and the Mokolo Crocodile West augmentation project in the Limpopo province, which will increase water supply to an area with multiple economic development opportunities.
Bigen proudly looks back at its 50-year track record of providing cost-effective infrastructure development solutions in Africa, not only in the water sector, but also in real estate, transportation, agriculture, energy, health and development advisory.
Having emerged from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic in good economic health, Bigen will continue to support African governments’ sustainable development goals by insightfully providing bespoke, cost-effective infrastructure and socio-economic development solutions toward the upliftment of our vast continent.
About Dr Mias van der Walt: Bigen Managing Director: Water & Sanitation
Dr Mias van der Walt is a recognised specialist in the field of water treatment, in particular process design and water reuse, and has designed some of the largest water reuse plants in the SADC. His design experience includes water & waste water treatment works, water reuse works, rural water supply and large trans-boundary water transfer schemes. Qualified as both a mechanical and a civil engineer, he holds BEng (Mechanical), MEng (Mechanical) and DEng (Civil) degrees and is a registered professional engineer in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Ghana. He has published papers in the fields of CFD, operation and maintenance, process design, hydrology, artificial intelligence and regional water transfer systems. He and his team have received prestigious industry awards for various local and international projects.