As Africa's second largest economy faces a crippling drought, we hear from Sensus South Africa manager on how the company is positioning its smart water technology.

South Africa is currently facing a major water crisis with the worst drought in 30 years. 

Added to this, the southern African country has water losses of 38% representing a ZAR 7bn (US$435m) reduction in utility revenue.

Klaus Gruebl, South Africa country manager at Sensus, predicts that if current development trends in South Africa continue, the country will have a 2.7bn m³ water deficit by 2030.

"This means we will need 20% more water than the 13.5 billion m³ used today," he explains.

He adds: "If the drought continues, the challenges to manage this demand will be extreme. These pressures, not only on water resources, but also on energy resources will open the door for new technologies."

"Smart grid solutions are required to cope with these challenges in the future – and we already see the market going into this direction. Sensus is in a position to assist utilities in their strategy and efforts to improve their networks to make them smart."

Smart solutions to water crisis

South Africa Sensus water crisis
South Africa is in the fourth consecutive year of drier-than-average weather with weather experts pointing to the El Nino weather pattern

Within South Africa, the company rolled out its smart water solutions including iPERL smart water meters as well as walk-by/drive-by metering solutions using fixed radio network solutions.

Gruebl said: "There are iPERL field trials with some of the biggest water utilities in South Africa with promising results. We are very optimistic about the opportunities.  The iPERL system with fixed radio network provides real-time information to municipalities. This will help to win the war on leaks.

"With smart meter technology and a robust management system, utilities will be able to optimize their network and we are sure to reduce the water loss by up to 20%. Imagine what financial impact this would have."

Beyond South Africa, the Sensus country office looks after Southern and Eastern Africa. Other African regions are served by the US-headquartered company's sister offices in Morocco, Algeria and France.

"In Namibia, we successfully rolled out the iPERL System," explains Gruebl.

[quote] "This was after a short but very successful field trial. Leaks could be detected and the excellent flow performance reduced the NRW significantly. Meter exchange programs are on the way and we are looking forward to grow the market for the iPERL system."

Water solutions in Africa

"In Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia we have had positive discussions about smart water solutions. To serve the growing population with water is one of the main challenges for the future.

"We are in discussion with different utilities, which want to move away from dumb meters towards smart endpoints.

"It is about electricity meters, water meters and other measuring equipment. iPERL and Sensus FlexNet long range fixed radio solutions enables the industry to manage their water respectively their energy network.

"In the US, our biggest market for smart solutions, we have installed some 16 million smart endpoints which are automatically monitored and controlled. This knowledge and experience we bring into the discussions."

Sensus South Africa is a sponsor of African Utility Week held in Cape Town in May 2016.