African Utility Week event director, Evan Schiff, says the upcoming National Water Week (17-23 March) and International Water Day (22 March) are important days to create awareness of the challenges and remind South Africans that every drop counts and that water is a finite resource.
"The African water industry is changing," Schiff adds. "In recent years, Africa's economic growth rates have averaged around 5.2% per annum, making the continent one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Coupled with high population growth, urbanisation and changing lifestyles, the demand for natural resources, especially water, continues to increase rapidly on the continent with no signs that both growth and demand will slow down any time soon.
"This highlights an urgent need for water utilities to broaden and expand their infrastructure. At the same time, water as a sector is difficult to manage because conflicting industries are vying for the slice of this liquid pie," he says.
"Innovation is on the increase and there is an ever growing awareness of the opportunities provided by sharing experiences and new smart water technologies. Once again at the African Utility Week the water conference track offers an exciting spectrum of speakers on the state of the water industry today with both local and global experts sharing their success stories and valuable lessons," explains Schiff.
The event expo boasts Africa's largest showcase of technology and service providers in water treatment, leak detection, metering and monitoring and control. It provides an opportunity to invest in knowledge and secure solutions to improve cost reduction strategies, sustainable business models, water management, treatment, supply and infrastructure. Importantly it will aim to find the answers to securing the future of water resources for Africa."
Peter Flower, director: Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town, is one of the headline speakers and will address the water delegates on the 'Continuous improvement in water management: The Cape Town perspective'. "The city's water department has been able to very successfully manage its demand growth over the last 15 years, through the co-operation of the residents of Cape Town and the successful implementation of the city's water conservation and demand management strategy.
"An indication of the success of these efforts is that, to date, the city has never exceeded the water demands experienced in 2000. This is remarkable when you consider there was significant population growth during this period. This has also enabled the city to defer the high capital expenditure on water resources and infrastructure development to a later time-frame," Flower concludes.