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Spain’s ACS withdraws from Inga 3 hydro project in Congo

Spain’s ACS is withdrawing from the multibillion-dollar Inga 3 hydroelectric project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company said on Tuesday, dealing a further setback to plans to develop Africa’s largest hydro plant.

A consortium led by Actividades de Construccion y Servicios signed a preliminary agreement with one led by China Three Gorges in 2018 to jointly develop the 11 000 MW project.

However, the two sides had been unable to agree on how to proceed to construction.

An ACS spokesperson told Reuters: “The ACS group will not participate in the execution of the project.” He provided no explanation for the decision to withdraw.

The head of the government agency overseeing development of Inga 3, part of a planned series of dams along the Congo River that could eventually produce more than 40 000 MW, said Congo was awaiting formal notification of ACS’s withdrawal.

It said however that the project would proceed.

“Let’s wait and see. The important thing for me is that Inga has become a reality, and is attracting interest from many developers,” Bruno Kapandji told Reuters.

The long-mooted project has been plagued by financing issues.

In 2016 the World Bank suspended tens of millions of dollars in funding, criticising Inga 3’s “strategic direction” after the government assigned the portfolio to the president’s office.

Elisabeth Caesens, director of Brussels-based advocacy group Resource Matters, said ACS had been on the fence for a while and did not want to commit extra money to such a risky investment.

“While ACS added weight to the ProInga consortium, it was not its driving force,” Caesens said.

“We can expect the remaining Spanish company and the Chinese majors with which it has been asked to form a joint consortium to actively look for a more enthusiastic partner to integrate the team.”

Resource Matters said in a report in October that Spanish company AEE Power was the more active player in the ProInga consortium with ACS.

In December, Congo President Felix Tshisekedi floated the idea of reverting to earlier plans to build Inga 3 with a 4 800-MW capacity, and gradually expand later.

Disagreements over the sequencing of the project and ownership stakes led to a breakdown in cooperation between the Chinese and Spanish consortia late last year.

Much of the output from Inga 3, which was expected to take eight years to build, has been earmarked for South Africa, with the rest going toward Congo’s mining sector and population.

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Spain’s ACS withdraws from Inga 3 hydro project in Congo
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Government to renew efforts on war-on-leaks programme

The Ministries of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation have teamed up to breathe life back into government’s war-on-leaks programme.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu directed the departments under their watch to fund and train youth to assist local government to reduce nonrevenue water from malfunctioning infrastructure.

South Africa is losing an average of R7.2-billion a year in nonrevenue water.

The trained youths will be deployed to identified municipalities with high water losses, with affected municipalities properly consulted on the nitty-gritties of rolling out the programme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) reprioritised more than R600-million of its finances towards assisting in the short-term drought interventions.

The National Treasury has also allowed the DWS to use emergency procurement measures in drought stricken areas, while officials from Dlamini-Zuma’s departments will assist and guide the affected provincial governments with regard to drought disaster declarations.

Measures will be put in place in the short and medium term, with a specific focus on development, management and use of groundwater.

Other long-term interventions will include the treatment and use of effluent, as well as desalination of sea water.

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Company launches unique water plant, empowers community

Mineral water company Aqua Air Africa (AAA) officially launched Africa’s first atmospheric water-generating plant at the Ga-Rankuwa industrial site, in Gauteng, in November.

The company is a subsidiary of 100% black-owned investment company Moipone Group Investments.

The construction of the plant began in 2018 with a team of committed engineers and local small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) led by AAA CEO Keamogetswe Matsho.

She advances that the successful commissioning of the plant has been the company’s biggest highlight since it began operating in 2018.

The plant produces about 10 000 ∙/d of water from the air, which is then bottled for consumption. AAA’s vision is to provide access to safe drinking water for all communities.

“Through this project, we were able to employ about 20 local community members, empower 38 SMMEs and impact over 100 lives in Ga-Rankuwa. The launch of this plant is significant because, while the atmospheric water generation industry is still a novelty and a relatively small market, South Africa leads from the front with regard to this technology in Africa, with the potential of reaching other African countries,” she tells Engineering News.

In alignment with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the atmospheric water-generating plant will be digitalised though the commissioned digital platform interface for the generation plant.

The core principle of atmospheric water generation is dehumidification. Atmospheric water primarily exists in three basic types – clouds, fog and water vapour in the air, says Matsho.

“Our generation process extracts humidity from the air through the condensation of water vapour. Surface contact with a condenser, with surface temperatures below the dewpoint of ambient air, results in the condensation of water vapour into liquid droplets.

“The droplet formation on the condenser is influenced by the properties of the surface-cover material, such as surface roughness and chemical heterogeneities,” Matsho explains.

The liquid droplets fall onto collection trays and are channelled into raw-water storage tanks. The treatment process consists of three-stage filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection.

AAA was founded following extensive research on possible solutions to combat the ongoing water shortage crisis in the country, with the aim of providing safe drinking water.

The company’s solutions consist of “world-class” ecofriendly technology that extracts humidity from the air. Thereafter, a purification process that includes a multistep filtration system and UV sterilisation ultimately produces pure drinking water naturally.

Each purification step is designed to ensure that all natural minerals are retained and that there are no added toxins. AAA aims to provide the same technology for local communities, disaster and drought-stricken areas, as well as areas with limited access to safe drinking water.

This will enable local communities to generate safe drinking water without any transport costs, the company says.

Matsho says the main challenge for the company to date has been a lack of knowledge, as the water-generating industry and the technology associated with it are still new.

“We encounter scepticism on whether we are able to deliver on our value proposition. Officially launching the plant became very important in demystifying the technology and the perceptions around its being a viable bulk potable water supply solution.”

Since the source of the atmospheric water is ordinarily clean, the water quality is adequate for drinking, and other domestic and agricultural use, she says.

No chemical treatment is applied during the treatment process of AAA’s atmospheric generated water; “therefore, a multitude of disinfection by-products, such as trihalomethanes and bromodichloromethane, which form during chlorination disinfection, are not formed during the production of treated potable water,” Matsho tells Engineering News.

Further, with South Africa being a semi-arid and water-scarce country, it often leaves citizens with the financial burden of having to pay for access to clean and safe drinking water from local third parties.

As such, Matsho highlights that water use and natural resources require improved management through better resource literacy.

She stresses that citizens and the private sector need to collaborate and start seeking innovative ways of assisting government in reaching its goal of having established water security by 2030.

“As a country, we need to ensure that our natural resources are protected against pollution and revisit – with the aim of improving – our existing maintenance strategies. South Africa should be open to other existing sustainable methods, such as atmospheric water generators, to meet water demand.”

Moreover, AAA offers premium drinking water through its industrial atmospheric water generators, bottled water and office and domestic dispensers.

Areas, such as Hammanskraal, in Gauteng, and Cape Town, in the Western Cape, have been the crisis areas in South Africa, she notes, adding that AAA’s modular municipal and industrial solutions can cater to large-scale water needs.

These units can be connected to pre-existing municipal distribution lines to feed communities, which is a plausible solution that eliminates water shortages.

“We are looking at expanding into two other provinces this year and, most importantly, we are challenging ourselves to gradually upscale the plant to produce a million litres a day in the next five years,” Matsho concludes.

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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan agree to US-brokered deal over Nile dam

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said they reached an agreement on the operation of a giant dam on a Nile tributary, a sign of easing tensions in the region.

The countries issued a joint statement along with the US and World Bank, which had participated as observers at meetings in Washington this week. The pact lays out a plan to fill the reservoir in stages – a process crucial to ensuring a reliable flow to Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all of its fresh water.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin intervened late last year in the long-running dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, known as GERD, which threatened freshwater supplies and had put two of Washington’s most prominent African allies at odds with each other. David Malpass, president of the World Bank, was also involved in the talks.

The deal “addresses the filling goals of Ethiopia and provides electricity generation and appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during prolonged periods of dry years, drought and prolonged drought,” the US Treasury said in a statement released Wednesday after three days of negotiations.

The agreement for what is set to be Africa’s largest hydropower project will be finalised in Washington on January 29, according to the statement.

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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan agree to US-brokered deal over Nile dam
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South Africa ‘not out of the woods’ yet, despite weekly improvement in water levels

Persistent rains across South Africa have started increasing the country’s dam levels, which rose by 1% week-on-week, according to the most recent weekly report by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

The report states that the average national level is currently 60.2%, a slight improvement from last week’s 59.2%.

Despite the improvement, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu renewed her call to all South Africans to continue saving water, warning that the country “is not out of the woods yet”, and that some provinces were still in the grip of severe drought.

The Eastern Cape and parts of the Northern Cape are among the worst affected provinces.

Sisulu recently announced R300-million in government funding to mitigate the effects of the drought in the Northern Cape, where the provincial government has declared the situation a “provincial disaster”.

However, recently, provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have received consistent rainfalls, which have slightly improved these areas’ water situation.

Gauteng’s dam levels have increased to 101.2%, followed by Northern Cape and Mpumalanga at 77.5% and 73.3%, respectively.

Hydrologically, Gauteng and the Northern Cape have fewer and smaller dams that fill up quickly by the slightest rains, the DWS said.

The Free State, which received hammering rains recently, has had its dam levels increasing from 65.6% to 67.7% this week. The province boasts some of the biggest dams in the country, including the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams.

Limpopo has further also seen an improvement in its water situation with dam levels rising from just below 50% two months ago, to 58.5% this week.

According to the report, three of the province’s dams – Magoebaskloof, Flag Boshielo and Tonteldoos – are “bursting at the seams” following relentless rains last week.

The situation, however, still remains dire in the Mopani district, where the Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba dams remain stagnant at only 4.6% and 2.5% of capacity.

The torrential rains also made a huge difference in Mpumalanga, where dam levels have risen by 11% from 60.2% to 71.3% this week.

Nooitgedacht dam, in Nkomati, rose to 100.7%, while Vygeboom shot up by 12% to 102%. The Inyaka dam, in Bushbuckridge, and Westoe, in the Usutu region, recorded levels of 46.5% and 42.7%, respectively.

As a result of consistent rains, the province now has 1 809.2 m3 of water in storage.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal is also experiencing a steady rise in its dam levels, with the province’s dams rising from 53.4% last week to 54.3% this week.

The Driel Barrage and Hluhluwe dams on the North Coast were at 100.3% and 101.4%, respectively.

The good level of rains has also increased dam levels in North West from 56.3% to 61% this week. Owing to this, four dams – Swartruggens, Middelkraal, Bospoort and Klipvoor – are full to capacity.

However, the Klein Marico dam recorded the lowest level at 7.1%.

This is because of the poor rainfall that occurred in the region between Zeerust and Groot Marico, the DWS said.

With the Western Cape having entered its dry hydrological season, dam levels have dropped to 60.5% in the province. After having recovered from the worst drought in 100 years, the province now has 996 m3 of water stored in its reservoirs for use during the dry season.

The storage figure indicates a 3% improvement compared with the corresponding period last year, the statement said.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/south-africa-not-out-of-the-woods-yet-despite-weekly-improvement-in-water-levels-2020-01-15
South Africa ‘not out of the woods’ yet, despite weekly improvement in water levels
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Western Cape concerned about predicted rainfall

While the dam levels in the Western Cape recorded a marginal year-on-year climb, continued early weather predictions for this year indicate the season ahead may not see the rainfall that is needed in all regions.

At the start of 2020, the Western Cape’s dam levels climbed slightly to 53.9%, from the recorded levels of 51.2% in the corresponding period last year.

However, Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister Anton Bredell urges communities across the province to use water responsibly.

“We need to permanently reduce our water use as the resource is finite and demand keeps increasing,” he says, noting that the province continues to monitor and provide support to areas where extreme drought continues.

“We continue to be most concerned about the Karoo region of the province where the Gouritz river catchment sees average dam levels of only 15.5% at the moment, despite recent rainfall in the region.”

The area continues to rely largely on groundwater for drinking and presently all communities still have sufficient drinking water.

“Farmers in those regions continue to be most affected and we urge them to contact the provincial department of agriculture for assistance,” he concludes.

 

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/western-cape-concerned-over-predicted-rainfall-2020-01-13
Western Cape concerned about predicted rainfall
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Ethiopia seeks mediation over Nile dam deadlock with Egypt

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister asked South Africa’s President to intervene in the Nile dam deadlock between Egypt and his country.

The three countries and neighboring Sudan are being hosted by the US Treasury for negotiations in Washington on Monday.

Last week Ethiopia said broader talks had reached a deadlock following Egypt’s introduction of new proposals to fill the dam in 12 to 21 years.

“We are willing to play a role in whatever agreement that can be crafted, and we will remain supportive to finding peaceful solutions between countries on our continent,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s in line to take over the African Union’s rotating chairmanship, said at a press conference on Sunday.

Tensions have flared over the dam on the Blue Nile that’s set to be Africa’s largest hydropower project when completed. Egypt and Ethiopia, with populations of about 100 million each, are struggling to reach an agreement on how to fill the reservoir.

“We are requesting as a brother and a friendly country to negotiate between Ethiopia and Egypt as well as the Sudan. I am sure you will play a significant role in bringing us a win-win solution,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said during a State visit to South Africa on Sunday.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, is urging parties to respect a 1959 pact on water allowances, which Ethiopia says should be reworked because it dates to the colonial era.

Construction on the dam is five years behind schedule and probably well over its original €3.4-billion budget. When the government ran short on funding, ordinary Ethiopians were tapped for donations, and civil servants donated parts of their salaries.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/ethiopia-seeks-mediation-over-nile-dam-deadlock-with-egypt-2020-01-13
Ethiopia seeks mediation over Nile dam deadlock with Egypt
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South Sudan plans environmental audit of oil fields in move to curb pollution

South Sudan is launching a tender for a comprehensive environmental audit of all its oil-producing fields in a bid to reduce pollution following years of neglect, the government said on Friday.

Oil sales bring in almost all the revenue of the East African nation, which has boosted output to stand at about 180 000 bbl/d in October, as it struggles to rebuild an economy shattered by five years of civil war.

But with the petroleum sector historically causing a loss of grazing land, soil and water contamination as well as other health risks in and around oil-producing areas, the government wants to strengthen enforcement and regulatory oversight.

“South Sudan is now faced with the challenge of balancing developmental needs with the spirit of environmental protection,” the government said in a statement.

Petroleum Minister Awow Daniel Chuang said the environmental audit would be conducted ahead of any new exploration and drilling in South Sudan, which wants to ramp up production and intends to offer 14 new oil blocks for exploration in a licensing round early in 2020.

Tender pre-qualification documents for conducting the full environmental audit are available at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba or on its website until January 20, the government said.

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South Sudan plans environmental audit of oil fields in move to curb pollution
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A water crisis is making things even worse in Zimbabwe

Trudging home along a dusty street in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo, Sikhathele Ndlovu balances a 20-liter bucket of water on her head, a ritual she’s performed daily for almost a decade. Persistent drought on top of existing faulty piping means there’s little prospect of an end to her back-breaking trek to the communal borehole.

“Nothing comes from the pipes to our homes now,” the 51-year-old widow said during a break on her 20-minute journey through the city’s Cowdray Park township. “Open the tap and not even a drip.”

Ndlovu is one of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, most of them women, forced to lug water from boreholes or wells as piping, pumping stations and other infrastructure crumbles. Their plight is being aggravated by what the Zimbabwe Farmers Union says is the worst dry spell in at least three years.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a nationwide drought that’s depleted dams, cut output by hydropower plants, caused harvests to fail and prompted the government to appeal for $464-million in aid to stave off famine. It’s disastrous for a nation whose economy has been driven to the brink of collapse by two decades of mismanagement, meaning the authorities can’t afford to effect repairs, let alone extend water access to a burgeoning urban population.

But Zimbabwe’s location means it’s likely to experience more frequent droughts in future. The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change has identified southern Africa as a so-called hotspot – a region that faces increased risks of heat extremes and less rainfall as the planet’s temperature rises.

The effects are already being felt in other African cities including Cape Town in neighboring South Africa and Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. Both have been plagued by water shortages brought on by drought, population growth, urbanization and insufficient investment in dams and other infrastructure.

“Climate change does not see boundaries or borders,” said Tich Zinyemba, head of the public weather service at Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Service Department. “Some of the things which we are seeing now such as prolonged droughts, dry spells are as a result of climate change.”

The consequences are plain to see in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo, in the west of the country. Once a thriving industrial hub, most manufacturing has come to a standstill and the city council has begun rationing water from the pumps and pipes that still work in a bid to stretch supplies until November when the rainy season normally begins.

“We’re hoping that by rationing, people will adjust so that we can continue supplying water,” said Simela Dube, the council’s director of engineering services. The city is targeting a reduction in consumption of about 20% per day.

Many of Bulawayo’s 1.5-million residents who do still have access to piped water can’t afford it – less than 10% of Zimbabwe’s workforce has formal employment – and resort to using free communal supplies when their homes are cut off for not paying.

“We are back in the olden days, but now it’s worse because everyone’s broke,” said Jessica Moyo, 60, as she pushed a barrow laden with empty containers to collect water from a shared faucet in Bulawayo’s Khumalo township, her grandson, Mikey, shuffling behind her. “Not one person in my family has a job. We live hand-to-mouth selling some tomatoes and cabbages.”

Bulawayo will need at least $522-million over the next two decades to repair and upgrade its existing water and sewer systems, according to Mercy Ncube, the city’s engineer. The council and debt-stricken central government doesn’t have the money and even if it can somehow be raised, it won’t alleviate the current supply deficit.

A plan to build a 384 km pipeline to bring water from the Zambezi river to Bulawayo – costed at about $5-billion a decade ago – was never implemented. While the central government, which is dominated by Shona-speaking officials, say the outlay was prohibitive, many residents of Bulawayo and the surrounding Matabeleland provinces say the inaction amounts to deliberate discrimination against their minority ethnic Ndebele group.

The water crisis is not as acute in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, which typically has more rain that Bulawayo. But even here, some of its suburbs haven’t had piped water for a decade.

Globally more than two-billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and the UN warns the problem is set to worsen, with demand expected to grow as much as 30% by 2050.

Ndlovu, the Bulawayo widow, is testimony to the hardship that will bring.

“Life here goes backwards,” she said. “First there was no water, now there’s usually no electricity. That’s our life now.”

Source Article from https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/a-water-crisis-is-making-things-even-worse-in-zimbabwe-2019-09-13
A water crisis is making things even worse in Zimbabwe
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George municipality progresses with Garden Route dam wall raise

George municipality on Thursday confirmed that the raising of the Garden Route dam spillway and wall was on track for completion by March next year.

The project started in May and the municipality reported that concrete for the first two sections of the spillway footing had been placed.

“The raising of the dam wall was progressing steadily with about 10 000 m3 of suitable fill material extracted from the dam basin on the MTO Forestry/ Nelson Mandela University side of the dam having been placed. The contractor should reach the final embankment wall height within the next two weeks, after which the ‘rip-rap’ layer will be placed.

“The final curtain grouting operation will start two weeks after the wall footings have been cast. Most of the wall footing ground anchors have been grouted in, with only the stilling basin anchors to be placed after completion of the wall footings. 

“About 54 t of reinforcement will be used in the spillway footings alone,” the municipality stated.

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