Water sanitation workshop highlights challenges

Inaugural water sanitation two-day workshop sets the stage for a water industrialisation plan.

Wednesday, 20 March marked the conclusion of a much anticipated two-day workshop supported by the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) together with the Black Business Council (BBC), Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE), Black Business Council in the Built Environment Youth Chamber and Magalies Water, supported by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

The workshop, hosted by Tshwane University of Technology, was used as the ideal platform for BBCBE CEO Gregory Mofokeng to announce some significant developments for SMMEs active in the full spectrum of the built environment, one being that now their members can fully participate in the DTI’s Black Industrialist Programme.

The role of SMMEs dominated daily discussions, highlighting employment and economic growth opportunities through small businesses within the water and sanitation sector of South Africa.

The EWSETA Acting CEO, Mpho Mookapele further encouraged all entrepreneurs to nurture their creativity through innovative ideas and solutions for sustainable, competitive ventures and not to be afraid of “small beginnings”. EWSETA will walk the journey with them and where it becomes necessary for another partner to continue the journey, EWSETA will be there to make those links; she concluded.

Over the two days the esteemed panel of speakers presented a spotlight on the water crises in the country and the innovative ways to save and recycle water. Of note was the Hartbeespoort Dam Overview, which illustrated the many socio-economic opportunities that the rehabilitation of the Dam has created for the local community. It also clearly illustrated the water, energy and agriculture nexus and “planted” a few seeds for attendees to ponder, not least of which is the potentially lucrative Aquaculture sector.

Day 1 Workshop Program Director Ms. Kyle Kwinana, pleaded with the youth to consider what she called ‘New Era’ careers such as agricultural sciences, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering . Students from Rustenburg Local Municipality, through their presentations, were a prime example of non-revenue water and operation maintenance solutions. WHC however, stole the show with a water leakage solution that is putting South Africa on the global business map.

Day 2 was focused on providing all stakeholders the opportunity to interact with some of the challenges presented on over Day 1 through a number of breakaway sessions where a number of further programs were mooted. Public-Private Partnerships as well as township collaboration were hailed as key steps in the path to be followed. Participants responded to the call made for innovative contributions by committing themselves to further explore opportunities in their own communities.

The partnership between EWSETA, BBC, BBCBE and BBCBE Youth Chamber in coordination with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Water Research Commission will be in discussions about a sustainable industrialization action plan for the water and sanitation sector that will lead to a credible program well after the Workshop.