Companies Wesgro and Green Cape recently met to discuss how best to turn the water crisis into an opportunity for economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.

The session brought together officials from the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government, water sector businesses, consulate representatives and academics and focused on what needed to be done to strengthen the water sector so that this objective can be achieved.

Western Cape minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said that several companies are investing in water technologies since the start of the drought in Cape Town which has not only contributed to their own resilience, but also kick-started the water economy.

“The growth we have seen in water saving services and technologies has been incredible and shows how businesses and our economy are using innovative ways to adapt to changes in our environment, these innovations are also set to create new jobs and growth.” Said Minister Winde

Green-Cape has also launched the 2018 Water Sector Market Intelligence Report (MIR), which focuses on opportunities for investors and businesses in the water sector. These include:

  • Growing private sector demand for smart water metering systems as a tool for improved water management.


  • The potential market for Water Consumption and Water Demand Management (WCWDM) projects that reduce non-revenue water in South African metros is estimated at ~R2bn a year, of which ~R500m is unfunded.


  • Water reuse in the industrial sector presents opportunities for both technology and service providers. The total gross value add (GVA) for moderate and highly water intense users in the WC in 2016, excluding agriculture, was R155bn in 2017.


  • New residential and commercial property developments in the province are a key market for water efficient devices and grey water reuse systems, presenting a potential market of ~R900m per year.


  • Municipalities are increasingly interested in potable water reuse of their municipal wastewater. In Cape Town there is a potential market of over R5bn.


  • There are a number of opportunities relating to groundwater and rainwater systems across all private sector markets. The potential residential market in the Western Cape could be worth ~R5.8bn.


  • Large-scale seawater desalination is an emerging market that presents a number of opportunities for investors. Globally, equity returns in desalination projects are typically at least 14%, with higher returns (up to 18%) expected in higher risk countries.

 Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, highlighted the importance of building a climate change resilient destination: “The Cape Town model will be discussed in many places around the world now and into the future. It is a case study on how a major city can respond in the short-term to a climate change-induced crisis. But we can’t leave it there. We need to also focus on the long-term, and this requires the strengthening of the water sector. If more and more businesses, homes and government buildings become water-smart, we will reduce our water-footprint even further and strengthen our resilience over time. This will be a success story that can be told to investors and tourists who want to visit or do business in our province.”

With water being a scarce commodity in our country and the water crisis crippling our development, we can all learn to be water wise and practice saving water in our homes, companies and schools.