SA commends Cuba’s support in water sector

Friday, December 1, 2023

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo has commended the Cuban government for its continued solidarity with the people of South Africa, particularly in the field of water and sanitation.

“The unwavering support that we receive from the Cuban government has been amazing and we will forever be grateful for their commitment in ensuring that South Africa is developed into a better state and achieve a great life for its people,” Mahlobo said.

He was speaking during the 7th South Africa-Cuba High Level Panel meeting with Cuba’s Institute of National Hydraulic Resources first Vice President, Bladimir Matos Moya, and a contingent of Cuban engineers deployed to South Africa as part of a long-standing cooperation between the two states.

During the meeting held in Pretoria this week, South Africa and Cuba reviewed the existing cooperation agreement between the two States in the areas of geo-hydrology and engineering services. 

The two also committed to continue working together and strengthening the existing relations.

“The expertise from Cuban engineers has assisted our country and our department a great deal in improving our technical capacity to manage our water infrastructure,” Mahlobo said.

The Deputy Minister commended the experienced engineers from Cuba for imparting their vast knowledge into up-and-coming engineers at the department.

The department has a Learning Academy which is tasked with unearthing young engineers to bridge the skills gap in the water sector. 

“We offer bursaries and then absorb young engineers upon completion of their studies, and we capacitate to acquire the required skills in many ways. This is where the expertise of Cuban engineers come in, to equip our newly graduated engineers to become better,” Mahlobo said.

The Deputy Minister reiterated that water security is dependent on how the country manages its infrastructure and water resources, saying this can be achieved through cooperation with like-minded and developed countries.

The current cooperation agreement between the two States, which was entered into in 2020, is set to lapse in 2025 and upon which, a new agreement is expected to be entered into until 2030.

Mahlobo said the 25 engineers assisting South Africa have been involved in electrical and mechanical operations and maintenance of pump stations and systems, dams, reservoirs associated with the electricity generation, mining industries and food production. 

“They have also been assisting with hydraulic and civil engineering work in regional bulk infrastructure project, control of expenses associated with infrastructure development in municipalities, drought relief programs, [including] COVID-19 projects and approval of water use licence applications. They have also involved in the development of Emergency Preparedness Plans for all dams according to the established regulations,” Mahlobo said. 

The two States have agreed to begin the process of reviewing the cooperation going forward and to expand to other areas of cooperation, which includes infrastructure investment and planning, development of green energy including the development of hydropower, climate change and its impact on infrastructure and national disaster management. 

The projects that the Cuban engineers have been involved in include, among others:
• Conditional assessment of Standerton water supply conduction, treatment, and disposal to the environment of the wastewater, Lekwa Local Municipality, Gert Sibande District Municipality;
• Technical audit of the hydraulic system of the Vaal basin in Johannesburg;
• Technical support and monitoring of the execution of RBIP projects;
• Upgrade of Maviljan Waste Water Treatment Works, Bushbuckridge; 
• Upgrade of Eerstehoek Water Supply phases 1 and 2 Albert Luthuli Local Municipality;
• Upgrade of Bulk pipeline for Empuluzi Methula Water Scheme phase 5, 6, 7 Albert  Luthuli Local Municipality; and
• Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme for Breyten (Cluster 2 phases 1 2 Msukaligwa Local Municipality. –