Eyewitness News has done a good expose of how deep the SA water infrastructure crisis runs. EWN reports that:
According to the latest census, nine out of 10 people have such access. But the reality on the ground, from Nkandla to Stellenbosch, paints a very different picture. The last seven years have seen a dramatic drop in how communities perceive the quality of their water. Millions of people don’t have access at all while others report queuing for up to ten hours to get a single bucket of water.
I’ve written about the water crisis in SA many times before (see here). This is a chronic and systemic crisis that will continue to grow for many years to come. The poorest people of South Africa will be worst affected.
Also interesting (and predictable) from the EWN article is that the private sector is coming to the rescue:
Municipalities have had to bring in private or semi-private contractors to deal with water problems and these deals are worth millions of rands.
I wrote about the opportunity in private water provision a couple of times before. In February 2012:
That said, the private sector is well placed to deal with the coming crisis, as water can be supplied and distributed outside of state control. While the state controls the fixed water distribution infrastructure in the form of pipelines, etc. the private sector would be able to service water demand, potentially for less, using trucks, the road network, and water storage facilities on residential properties. Unlike with Eskom and Telkom, the state does not have sole control over the methods through which water can be produced, distribute, and marketed.
To give you an idea of what may be to come, expect water truck-tanks delivering water to water storage tanks at your home, at a cost probably about double the current ~R4 per kilo liter you pay the municipality.
And in March 2013:
Water prices are going to climb dramatically because as the government provision of water fails, people will be forced to go out and buy water from private vendors, as is happening in other African countries such as Angola. We all know what private water will cost us a lot more.
The brightest opportunities in SA today are in providing services where government is involved, as government WILL fail.
The EWN article is a good read, even if you want to scan over it quickly and look at some pictures. Read it here. The sad reality is that the South African economy and living standards of average South Africans are regressing, and our cities are becoming more ‘African-class’ (to play on the Joburg’s slogan) by the week. Sad, but undeniable.