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Revived Rand Water Services to accelerate innovation, sustainability locally and in the rest of Africa

14th July 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Rand Water has re-established Rand Water Services to deliver a variety of services for the water sector in South Africa and across Africa as it works to accelerate innovation and sustainability.

Initially established in 2000, and divisionalised in 2011, Rand Water took a decision earlier this year to re-establish the organisation to focus on specific mandates and continue the work that it had done until 2011.

Rand Water chief shared services officer and Rand Water Services acting MD Teboho Joala said that, having completed work across South Africa and in some African countries in the past, the revamped firm now has a commitment to innovation and sustainability, the continuous exploration of new strategies and developing and implementing technologies to optimise water sector projects and provide adaptive solutions.

Speaking on the sidelines of the African Water and Sanitation Association’s ninety-first Scientific and Technical Council meeting earlier this month, he told Engineering News & Mining Weekly that the unit was divisionalised in 2011 to focus mostly on the then Ministerial strategic vision for water utilities at the time.

However, many of the services were continued and now Rand Water Services, absorbing some of the divisionalised services, aims to ensure a focused approach towards bulk water sanitation interventions.

“We are reimagining the way in which we supply bulk water to communities. Rand Water Services is in the prime position to achieve these goals,” he told Engineering News & Mining Weekly, noting that the business has approached the Rand Water board for further funding and recapitalisation.

Overall, the mission of Rand Water Services is to be a provider of sustainable and competitive solutions for the water and sanitation sector in South Africa and across the rest of Africa.

“We want to be centre stage, to be a part of the solution as we reimagine the trajectory and future of this continent,” he said, adding that this generation will be the last to use pit latrines and other technologies that do not resonate with developed and developing countries around the world.

Among the company’s ambitions is the strengthening of its capacity to attract, develop and retain leading-edge skills in the water services space; deliver sustained robust financial performance; develop sustainable globally competitive capabilities; enter into sustained productive partnerships; and develop, test and deploy innovative technologies.

“As part of our contribution, we are bringing a very rich history and expertise and accomplishments, spanning 120 years of planning, designing, implementing and managing tailored water and sanitation solutions,” Joala said, highlighting successful project implementation in various countries across Africa, including South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique and Namibia, besides others.

This expertise, capability and knowledge being brought into the organisation will not only benefit South Africa, but the rest of the continent.

“Collaboration with Infrastructure South Africa further empowers us to expedite project preparation, implement strategic priority infrastructure projects and amplify project delivery across the infrastructure development value chain,” he said.

While the services company offers solutions across Africa, locally, there is a focus on municipalities, many in debt to Rand Water and its sister water boards.

Rand Water is suggesting the establishment of focused water and sanitation utilities to assume the operations and maintenance of municipal water services, which will relieve municipalities of that burden, as they “need all the help they can get”.

It is envisaged that the utilities, independent of municipalities, would ultimately be responsible from the abstraction point through to reticulation to ease the burden of maintenance and upgrade of infrastructure through a proposed special-purpose vehicle.

“We want to have autonomous, independent water utilities that can be able to bill, deal with efficiencies and manage the indigent registers [besides others] and use the various subsidies from government solely for water and sanitation activities without . . . [the funds] being absorbed into the whole municipal system,” he said.

“If we are focused on this particular programme in a structure that is set up specifically to manage the water value chain, outside the municipalities’ boundaries or areas, we can overcome some of these challenges we are seeing.”

Rand Water Services’ product and service portfolio comprises various engineering, advisory and professional services, as well as scientific services supported by its well- established scientific services department.

Research, innovation and technology is a large focus for the entity, with its innovation department focused on identifying and testing relevant technologies and conducting proof of concepts.

Innovations include leveraging satellite services to detect water leaks and testing and piloting sensors for manholes and pipelines to identify leaks at any stage to deal with them quicker.

Rand Water Services has also identified four key workstreams, the first of which is the strategic growth trajectory involving bulk sanitation schemes design and construction, developing a unique financial model and developing partnerships.

The second workstream, under greenfield services, focuses on effluent reuse, acid mine drainage water, mine fissure water, developing regional sewer schemes, groundwater borehole installations and developing new water treatment schemes.

The third workstream involves brownfield services, including operations and maintenance, nonrevenue water, water supply and demand management, infrastructure upgrades and refurbishment, water quality services, capacity building, professional services, monitoring and evaluation and stakeholder management, besides others.

The fourth workstream involves vertical integration, including strategic business practices of controlling and integrating various stages of production and distribution processes; the manufacture of or investment in water treatment chemicals for internal and external use; and hydro and gas energy generation, besides other focus areas.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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