Water technology demonstrations at Metropolitan Municipalities- Centre of Expertise

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How to get Innovative ‘Water’ Technologies accepted in the South African public sector?

YMoS was the private sector partner from 2011 to 2017 for Vitens Evides International in the development of a sustainable ‘springboard’ for (private) innovative technologies in the (public) Water & Sanitation sector in South Africa.

eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) conducted a pilot project with trenchless technologies with YMoS in 2009 to 2011 to replace several asbestos-cement (AC) pipes.

These trenchless technologies were previously not applied in South Africa. The department head (Mr. Neil Macleod) expressed a need to set-up a platform where new working methods and technologies could be tried and tested.

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Vocational and technical staff training needed to be an integral part of this platform to benefit EWS and the South African water sector at large. The need for such a platform was informed by the many new technologies seen abroad and not offered in South Africa through any of the usual channels (e.g. consulting engineers, trade missions).

The Dutch government reviewed its development aid policies and concluded that South Africa should no longer be considered a recipient of government development aid grants.

South Africa still has many development challenges ahead, but the focus of the bilateral relationship should be re-focused on trade. A transition facility was set-up for South Africa (together with Columbia and Vietnam) to assist in the transition from aid to trade.

These two developments combined resulted in the Dutch government request to Vitens Evides International to write a proposal with Your Man on Site, World Waternet and World Water Academy. 

The subsequent business plan for the Centre of Expertise was developed and approved with a government grant for execution.

During these initial 3 years the collaboration with EWS was strengthened and a partnership relation with the City of Cape Town (CCT) and Johannesburg Water (JW) was developed. Various conference presentations and network events were conducted.

A showcase portfolio of innovative technologies/approaches for the sector was built on 4 pillars (Decision support, Exploration, Product specification & organisation & Training).

Corresponding procedures were fine-tuned resulting in several tenders being published and awarded. The sustainability of the concept remained a challenge, due to various legal hurdles.

Advice was given and a road map was developed on the incorporation of the concept in the research, development and Innovation (RDI) strategy of SALGA’s water portfolio. Further linkages with NUFFIC programs were explored, allowing knowledge development at South African municipalities.

Together with VEI, YMoS made sure all activities were winded down correctly and closed the registered ‘Special Purposed Vehicle’ company.

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The Centre of Expertise project has demonstrated the need for new technology and initiated collaboration between cities. It has generated a specific network in the water sector in both South African and the Netherlands. This includes an intimate knowledge of specific rules and regulations.

With help of SALGA a sustainable model was handed over for the South African sector to take further with new technologies, pilots and top disseminate the gained knowledge.

With the help of the 3 metropolitan municipalities (Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg) more than 30 physical pilots with innovative technologies for water and waste water were executed.

The full program was sponsored by the Royal Dutch Embassy in South Africa and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

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