UK-based joint venture (JV) RSKeWATERservices has won a tender to install 650 solar-powered eWaterPay pay-as-you-go water meters across the Dodoma and Singida districts in Tanzania.
RSKeWATERservices, a JV between integrated environmental, engineering and technical services business RSK and eWaterPay system developer eWATERservices, employs a low-cost pay-as-you-go water system using mobile technology.
The system incorporates a solar-powered tap connected to a digital wallet that is situated within a village community.
“Many rural communities across Africa are plagued with water systems installed with good intent . . . but with little thought to the sustainability of these systems, meaning that when a pipe bursts or a pump fails, there are no funds, engineers or spare parts to repair them,” said eWATERservices projects and public affairs director Nick Leason.
In Tanzania, over 40% of the estimated 86 000 rural water systems are said to be unserviceable, leading to thousands of rural communities who live a hand-to-mouth existence having to travel large distances every day to collect water.
He also noted that 45% of water supply systems tend to break after two years because there is no water economy, no professional maintenance and no money to pay for maintenance.
“It is important to find a solution that helps maintain the water infrastructure,” he commented, adding that eWATERpay helps address these challenges and ensures accessible, affordable clean water for rural communities.
“With deep mobile penetration across Africa, as mPesa helped the unbanked, eWATER seeks to help those without affordable access to clean water. In Africa, mobile technology which revolutionised the banking sector could do the same for the water shortage.”
“The device successfully addresses the twin challenges of water infrastructure maintenance and availability by offering round the clock access to water for users, unlike in the past when a borehole may have only had personnel at it for specific time periods,” he explained.
The cost of water is affordable, with a 1 000 ℓ of water costing just $1 – or 5c for a 20 ℓ bucket – while the revenue collected is used to cover the costs of accessing clean water that is then used to operate and maintain the systems over time.
“According to a recent World Bank study on the performance of water supply services in Africa, half of the region’s utilities do not have the revenues to cover their operation and maintenance costs,” Leason said.
“Countries need to build up their operational capacities and use both public and private utilities to meet the demand for sufficient volumes of quality water.”
The Tanzanian government launched the Accelerating Solar Water Pumping through Innovative Financing project, led through the TIB Development Bank with funding from the World Bank, to address this issue.