Fruitful partnership on water, energy and food safety in South Africa
South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa with sophisticated economic sectors such as mining, manufacturing, information and communication technology, and financial services. However, the country is also facing increasing challenges in the key areas of water and energy supply security, due to the combined influence of climate change, a young and growing population, and ageing infrastructure. To contribute to solving these challenges, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has continuously strengthened its collaboration with Stellenbosch University (SU) in South Africa. In February 2020, the two institutions jointly established the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus at SU (FIP-WEF@SU) where research experts from both institutions jointly develop needs-based technological and cross-sectoral solutions for water, energy and food security. Fraunhofer IGB is a key driver in the FIP, together with three other Fraunhofer institutes (IST, ISE and IOSB).
This unequalled mix of local and international expertise has caught the eye of some of the leading South African utilities and institutions. The largest bulk water utility in Africa, Rand Water, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the IGB and FIP-WEF@SU to establish a collaborative relationship in areas of research development and innovation, focusing on key topics like digitalization of the water economy and water security modelling. Similarly, the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT) has worked with Fraunhofer for years and is exploring the reuse of wastewater with the IGB. The IGB is also developing key technologies in the CoalCO2-X Program, an industry-led 10-year flagship program in South Africa that aims to capture CO2 and other emissions from industrial flue gases and convert these into saleable commodities.
These notable contributions would not be possible without the energy and passion of our Fraunhofer colleagues. Many congratulations on the 70th anniversary; we look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership.
Oliver F. R. A. Damm