“The water and sanitation sector is currently not financially sustainable.”
(National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, 2018)
Water management in South Africa requires urgent action. Drought and poor water service delivery is already constraining economic growth and hampering livelihoods. The water sector funding gap is R330 billion over the next ten years, with major infrastructure refurbishment and improved maintenance required. At least a third of the municipalities delivering water services are considered to be dysfunctional. Many water institutions are not credit-worthy and accumulated municipal water debt is now over R13 billion.
The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan states that a ‘turn-around towards financial sustainability is not optional’ and calls for enhanced revenues, cost reductions, an analysis of alternative service delivery models and increased private sector investment.
Kopano ya Metsi (‘meeting for water’ in Sesotho) was initiated in 2017 by the National Business Initiative (NBI) in partnership with the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and Voluntas Advisory, to understand how water investment can be unlocked in South Africa. Kopano ya Metsi speaks directly to the need to investigate alternative delivery models and ways to improve the sector’s financial viability, as outlined in the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.
Throughout its duration Kopano ya Metsi has sought to understand 4 issues:
- How can water finance be unlocked?
- What is the potential role of formal Public-Private Partnerships?
- How can municipal water management be strengthened?
- How can we solve for a specific challenge, wastewater treatment?
Over a period of 18 months, Kopano ya Metsi has engaged with hundreds of water experts in South Africa through 8 major roundtables, conferences and workshops held across 4 cities (Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town), as well as a series of individual meetings. Participants have included civil society partners, national government, local government, industry bodies, local government associations, researchers, private sector implementers, development banks, commercial banks and investors. The findings of Kopano ya Metsi are a reflection of this consultation process.