Europe and Africa – equal partners
European and African partners have been closely cooperating in the SafeWaterAfrica project as equal partners on all levels, including technical development, training and business development, in order to develop and convey the water purification system as a “Made in Africa” solution. A “Made in Africa” perception will be of key importance in gaining acceptance of the SafeWaterAfrica technology in the African local rural communities and will promote local ownership.
SafeWaterAfrica – the technology
Core component of the SafeWaterAfrica water purification system is an electrochemical oxidation process using metal electrodes coated with a conductive boron-doped diamond layer which is only a few micrometers in thickness. With the help of these electrodes, contaminants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and germs are efficiently removed from polluted waters. With low voltage applied, the electrodes produce strong oxidants such as hydroxyl radicals (OH•) and ozone (O3) which are able to deactivate viruses and to break down organic substances into safe substances.
The modular purification system has a pre-treatment including a newly developed and highly efficient electrocoagulation and electrodialysis. The pre-treatment removes suspended particles and heavy metals in order to achieve optimum efficiency of the electrochemical oxidation.
Two container based demonstrator plants in Waterval, South Africa and Ressano Garcia, Mozambique, are in operation since months, the water sources being Klip river and Inkomati river, respectively. The demonstrators are capable of purifying water in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) and South African SANS 241 standards. Autonomous operation by local staff has been successfully demonstrated so far with the South African unit. It is equipped with solar panels and batteries for off-grid operation and has already been tested in the 24-hour operation mode. 7 – 8 hours of solar radiation are sufficient to produce at least 10,000 liters per day of safe water, which is sufficient for supplying 300 people.
Socio-economic and economic impact
The SafeWaterAfrica technology will contribute to the improvement of the potable water supply situation, thus addressing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6 and 3. In the rural communities, this will mean - particularly for women and children - a relief in time-consuming water collection and, as a result, more opportunities for education and productive pursuits (SDG 5). Good health will also affect school absence times for pupils with the corresponding positive effects on education. On the economic side, new qualified job opportunities in rural areas will be created by local system fabrication, installation, operation and maintenance (SDG 8).
Work will continue to create and increase awareness for the SafeWaterAfrica system among all relevant public and private stakeholders. In addition, business models were developed to roll-out the technology in the Southern Africa Development Community.