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Water stress sees tank sales soar

If you’re a city slicker, chances are you get your water from a tap, but rural dwellers are increasingly using tanks to harvest rain.

Water tank sales have been stellar. Figures supplied by the industry body, the Association of Rotational Moulders of Southern Africa, shows that growth last year was 28.7%. Demand has doubled in the past several years, from 16 401 tonnes in 2010 to 32 000 tonnes last year.

Market leader Jojo currently sells 1 000 tanks a day, and its annual turnover is more than R600-million. It has supplied two million of its tanks mostly in rural areas.

“Our primary target market is rural with at least 70% of our tanks sold into non-urban areas,” says Sebasti Badenhorst, national sales and marketing manager of JoJo Tanks.

Justin Lindsay, a manager of Eco Tanks, JoJo’s main competitor, says: “There is large interest in people from rural communities due to the fact that in many rural areas there is no municipal water supplied to these communities.”

But demand for water tanks in urban areas may grow.

“Municipal water-shedding seems to be on the increase,” says Lindsay. “We believe this might lead to an increase in tank sales in the future. Households will store municipal water for use when water is not available through the main reticulation.”

Jojo estimates its market share at between 45% and 55%, suggesting a total market of about four million tanks. South Africa has 14.5-million households, according to Statistics South Africa.

Jojo tanks come in sizes ranging from 20 litres to 20 000 litres. Prices start at R200 and the most popular size, the 5 000 litre, sells for R5 500.

“Limpopo is the biggest market, as only 13% of households have got piped water in their houses, according to Census 2016. Most purchases for domestic water storage are for private use through our retail channel partners,” says Badenhorst.

According to industry figures supplied by Jojo, the Eastern Cape has 1.8-million households and one in six has a tank. The Free State has 950 000 households and one in 19 has a tank.

Jojo was founded 40 years ago by Groblersdal farmer Johannes Joubert, but it is now in the hands of investors, with Rand Merchant Bank being the major shareholder. Business Insider reported last year that the Oppenheimer family had invested in Jojo in 2011.

Given that the tanks are bulky and costly to transport, it’s no surprise that Jojo manufactures in eight places — Groblersdal, Klerksoord, Bloemfontein, Camperdown, Glencoe, East London, Uitenhage and Worcester, as well as in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

Eco Tanks’ prices are from R700 for a 260 litre tank to R13 000 for its 10 000 litre tank. It manufactures in East London, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

The department of water and sanitation’s Sputnik Ratau says: “South Africa is a water scarce country. What is important is that all water users need to understand it is the role and responsibility of all to ensure that there continues to be responsible use and protection of the resource.”

Tshegofatso Mathe is an Adamela Trust journalist at the M&G

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Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

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