Opinion: A democracy is about working together to solve challenges

Opinion: A democracy is about working together to solve challenges

Editor's note - Lebogang Maseko, communicator at the Department of Water and Sanitation, talks about the need to encourage new innovations in the water and sanitation sector ahead of the Innovation and Technology Solutions Exhibition and Conference, to be held on Saturday, 10 November at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.

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During his Mid-Term budget speech, Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, expressed the view that the current water delivery models are not working. He also expressed that the country needed to consider new ideas and models to ensure South African citizens get the best water and sanitation services available.

Department of Water and Sanitation pulls up its sleeves

Following Minister Mboweni’s remarks and in-depth discussions during the Presidential Investment Conference regarding nurturing and encouraging new innovations to provide solutions to problems faced in the water and sanitation sector, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has since rolled up its sleeves and heeded the call to encourage such innovations.

This is seen as Minister Gugile Nkwinti will host a ministerial interactive session with emerging and established innovators in an Innovation and Technology Solutions Exhibition and Conference, to be held on Saturday, 10 November at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.

Themed “Innovations today for tomorrow’s water and sanitation solutions” the exhibition and conference is set to bring together over 50 exhibitors from across the country, to showcase innovative solutions to challenges currently faced by the water and sanitation sector.

You would recall that in December 2017, the department, in partnership with Water Research Commission (WRC), held a Water Infrastructure Investment Summit at Sandton Convention Centre.

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Shifting the water and sanitation sector investment landscape

The Summit featured investors, funders, project developers, policymakers, regulators and local government partners and engaged in a programme of action that aimed to shift the water and sanitation sector investment landscape to a space that is open and enabling for investment and inclusive growth opportunities.

The summit targeted role players that intended to invest in the water and sanitation sector in light of the persistent drought and flood challenges, on-going service delivery needs and ageing water infrastructure.

Most importantly, the Summit was driven by policy imperatives emerging from the development of the next National Water Resources and Sanitation Strategy and the associated development of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

Focusing on key investment opportunities

The Summit programme focused on key investment opportunities, constraints and solutions in the areas of bulk water infrastructure, municipal water infrastructure, and emerging innovations and solutions.

Fast-forward to the 2018 Ministerial Interactive Session, spearheaded by the Water and Sanitation Minister, Nkwinti, a number of innovators as well as major role players have been identified in the sector to showcase their expertise in the respective fields and advise one another on a number of issues that directly and indirectly affect them to bring about positive changes.

Topics of discussion

Minister Nkwinti and his Deputy, Pamela Tshwete, are set to actively engage in what is expected to be an interactive session, to discuss, among other matters, water purification and waste water package plants, Dual Strategy; Desalinated and Ground Surface Water, the acceleration of eradication of buckets and contribution to Green and Blue Drop reports.

In addition, the strengthening and accelerating of water authorisation and licencing, along with the detection and prevention of water leaks will also be discussed by working groups at the forthcoming conference.

Through these interactive sessions, the department hopes to provide a platform to sector leaders to help shape the direction of the department, influence policy and help provide solutions that will help move South Africa forward.

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The Exhibition presents an opportunity for the innovators to showcase their ideas and jointly find solutions, where applicable, to the challenges faced. This will also encourage innovators to invest further in their developments through the enticements and realisable opportunities that the established organisations will share within the enabling environment.

It will also bring together stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector, government departments and their entities responsible for municipalities, industry and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Organisations looking for opportunities for commercialisation will also form part of the exhibition.

Involving emerging innovators from disadvantaged backgrounds

A platform will also be afforded to emerging innovators from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, with the focus geared towards women and young innovators. They will showcase their work and share experiences of the innovation landscape to date.

With its on-going challenges, the DWS has found a way to extend a hand and ask for help from innovators, to help address issues faced in the water and sanitation sector.

This calls for a time to reflect as South Africans and work hand in glove with our government, to suggest and provide solutions and not only cry foul when things don’t seem to work.

A democratic country is about working together and this is an opportune time to do exactly that.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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