South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology
Last published date: 2023-05-06


Water Scarcity Water scarcity is a major challenge in South Africa that also represents a substantial opportunity for investors and businesses in the water sector.  South Africa is ranked as the 30th driest country in the world. It is a highly water-stressed country, with extreme climate and rainfall fluctuations (WRI 2015). Agriculture is the largest user of water followed by municipalities that include residential, commercial, and industrial users. In addition to scarcity, there is growing concern about the quality of both drinking and industrial water. South Africans are one of the highest consumers of water in the world, and some regions, like the Eastern Cape, are in danger of running out of water. By contrast, the East coastline, particularly the Kwa-Zulu Natal area, is flood-prone, which will intensify due to climate change, as well as inadequate infrastructure and planning.

Statistics To address water scarcity and provide reliable water and sanitation to all South Africans, businesses, and industries in the country estimate that an approximately R90 billion ($5.21 billion) per year of investment is needed in water infrastructure over the next 10 years (DWS 2017A). At current consumption rates, South Africa will be using more water than it has by 2025, according to the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation. By 2030, South Africa will be using 17 percent more than it is today, according to the 2030 Water Resources Group.


SDISSA The inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa (Sidssa) launched in June 2020 to increase infrastructure spending and employment.  The platform seeks to build partnerships between public- and private-sector stakeholders interested in infrastructure investments.

Limpopo The Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project (Phase 2A) project aims to increase water supply in the Lephalale region of the Limpopo Province. The water generated through the initiative will be used as a second source for the Medupi and Matimba Power Stations and will also help meet the growing demand for water in the Lephalale Municipality. The proposed investment value of the project is R12.4 billion ($720 million) and the investment period is five years.

Other areas of opportunity include:

  • Smart metering and monitoring, water-efficient technologies, water reuse technologies, alternative water treatment systems, and water augmentation opportunities such as wastewater reuse and desalination
  • Bulk water transfer projects, which provide opportunities to leverage new technologies.
  • Construction of new dams and irrigation programs
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Leak detection technologies
  • Industrial and commercial sectors that are water intensive such as the food and beverage sectors
  • Municipal level projects

Most of these water projects are through the different municipalities and would require a tender process.

Other sub-sector prospects in the EnviroTech sector include:

  • Waste treatment projects
  • Organic waste treatment
  • Pollution and air control
  • Solid waste management


Key Contacts

Department of Human Settlement, Water, and Sanitation (DWS)

Water Research Commission

Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA)

Rand Water - South Africa


For More Information

The U.S. Commercial Service Commercial Specialist for the Envirotech Sector in Johannesburg, South Africa can be contacted via e-mail at:

Phone: +27 11 290-3332.

or visit our website: