The Department of Water and Sanitation is calling on the financial services sector to support efforts to close the water services infrastructure gap.

Leading water, infrastructure and financial sector stakeholders met in Johannesburg last week at the third Annual Water Stewardship summit for in-depth talks on funding models to improve South Africa’s water security.

The event kicked off with calls for the financial sector to support the coming National Water and Sanitation Master Plan to help close the water services infrastructure funding gap of around R30 billion per annum.

Trevor Balzer, Deputy Director General: Strategic and Emergency projects at the Department of Water Sanitation, echoed sentiments made earlier this year by his Deputy Minister, Pamela Tshwete, for big businesses to assist in funding sustainable development projects.

“Today’s event has brought us together at a critical time in South Africa’s water and sanitation planning. We expect to incorporate the feedback we received today from the financial community and other stakeholders to create a plan that effectively addresses the country’s needs,” Belzer said.

Getting involved early

The summit, organised by the Strategic Water Partners Network, the National Business Initiative and the Royal Danish Embassy, provided an often-neglected opportunity for public and private financiers to become involved in the initial planning and project conceptualisation stage of the new National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

Speaking at the event, Catherine-Candice Koffman, Head of Infrastructure and Telecommunications Project Finance at Nedbank CIB, stated, “Getting involved at this stage of the planning process helps us from a corporate and investment banking perspective to better conceptualise how we can leverage our strategic, operational and sustainability goals to proceed in a way which will contribute to the future master plan.”

Expert speakers noted that South Africa faced water services challenges on a number of fronts, including supply, ageing infrastructure, the need for new infrastructure, significant non-revenue water losses and the issue of revenue collection.

The Department of Water and Sanitation is currently in the process of drafting the country’s new National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, expected completion March 2018.