Ministerial address: Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane
In her opening remarks the minister advised the delegates that, together with 192 other countries, South Africa has committed itself to the achievement of the new globally set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is Goal Six, the objective of which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Key points of the minister’s address
Minister David Mahlobo on the importance of the water-energy nexus development
• There is no policy uncertainty in water or in energy, because water and energy are shared endowments. Investments in water and energy in Africa would be wise.
• Currently the renewable energy sources available include hydro, solar, wind power, nuclear and gas — and the energy sector is working at using all of these forms.
• It is important for investors to invest in water, as Africa is a growth point, and there is a need to come up with African solutions to African problems. All resources are finite, they all come to an end. Government needs to examine affordability and environment.
• The world is looking at South Africa as a place to invest in; many investment opportunities lie in developing infrastructure. No nation can grow without investing in infrastructure. Anyone who can spend needs to invest in water and energy. Africa is on the rise, as the population continues to grow.
• European countries are not growing as much as most African countries are. They are willing to partner with the international community, but are not willing to have “masters” who provide foreign solutions for African problems.
• The economy of the continent is growing, but we want to think as one people and promote an integrated, economically enriched lifestyle. There is a blueprint for investors who wish to engage with South Africa, in the form of the National Development Plan. Working on getting infrastructure up to speed will also go a long way towards promoting tourism, trade and investment in the country.
Minister Lindiwe Zulu: Creating an investment-friendly environment
The minister of small business development says the ecosystem of support structures must be improved
• There is a push in the direction of water infrastructure development and water access for ordinary people who are struggling, to assist with job creation and reduce poverty. The minister expressed concern, as the signing of a transversal agreement has not taken place between the department of small business development and the department of water and sanitation. She advised that it is important that the agreement is finalised as it will act as guidance and as a base to work from. Issues related to opportunities for SMMEs and co-operatives do not need research. Many SMMES have the solutions already, but lack the guidance to go forward, and lack funding.
• With regard to SMMES in particular, a report by StatsSA indicated that in 2016 up to 47% of SMME owners hired new employees, therefore addressing part of the mandate of the NDP. An investigation is being conducted to identify which SMMEs actually hired employees. Government has a big purse, but most SMMEs do not have access to these funds, as large infrastructure projects seem to dominate the allotment of the funds. The minister advised that owners of SMMEs need to prepare themselves to play with the bigger players in the sector by forming partnerships. Investors must not lose sight of small businesses.
• It is also important to improve the ecosystem of support structures, legislations, regulations, financial and non-financial support in order for there to be a seamless flow of information. There are three spheres of government, and two agencies, Seda (Small Enterprise Development Agency) and Sefa (Small Enterprise Finance Agency) that sit with the department, but these agencies are not sufficiently connected to one another. There is a need to break down these barriers and form synergies where possible to come up with more innovative solutions.
• At a local government level, there is a need to strengthen local structures; the leaders don’t have a good understanding of the economics of the area. They need to connect better with the government.
• Lack of inter-developmental communication is constraining development, with projects undertaken in isolation. Local government has economic agencies in place, but the right people need to be put into place too.