How Water Affects the Economic Climate of South Africa

  • The industries that suck most of SA’s water are the agricultural, mining and afforestation 
  • Water scarcity affects SA’s economic growth, as well as the success of key economic contributors 
  • By utilising repurposed water and water capture solutions, industries can reduce their dependence on SA’s water stores


In an article discussing the affects of water scarcity on a nation’s economy, Global Risk Insights reveals that the pinch is felt in more than one sector. Agriculture is understandably one of the worst-hit industries, but water scarcity has negative implications for the very growth of a country’s economy – something crucial for the continuation of an ever-growing population. This article looks at who uses the most water, how water scarcity affects the greater South African economy, and how we can solve the South African water crisis:


Our Water Intensive Industries


South Africa’s biggest water user is the agriculture sector. Irrigation soaks up 59% of South Africa’s water, sprinkling and spraying it over thousands of hectares of budding crops destined for stores the world over.

Mining and Bulk Industry

While urban and rural use of water comes in at second on‘s water usage list (25%), third is the mining and bulk industry sectors – where water use is operationally non-negotiable.


Ironically, planting more trees can sometimes be a bad thing. As far as the impact on SA’s water use is concerned, afforestation takes 3.7% of water stores annually. Luckily, as our dependence on paper declines, so to should this percentage.

Power Generation

Coming in at 2.2% of water use in South Africa is the power generation sector. Powering our lamps, televisions and smartphone chargers takes a lot of hard work – and more water than you’d think.


How Water Shortage Affects Big Industry

Whether farming sheep and cattle, or fruits and vegetables, water is used at many a step in the cultivation process. The less water farms have to irrigate, the less crops they can irrigate, which affects their export numbers and ultimately their bottom line.

Mining and bulk industrial processes feel the affects of water shortage too, as scarecity leads to an increase in overheads – while operations are often obstructed due to water shortage, affecting overall productivity.

In the manufacturing sector, water restrictions directly affect productivity by capping output. The food industry of Cape Town is currently in full-blown crisis, as establishments are shutting their doors due to lack of water.

On a positive note, water crises present unique opportunities for advancement. As we become more and more dependent on alternative water sources, these technologies (desalienation plants, water storage tanks, greywater harvesting, etc.) are getting better, and becoming more accessible.


What Water Scarcity Means for South Africa

The South African top three GDP contributors are, in order of importance, agriculture (including forestry), mining, and manufacturing. Water shortage affects industry productivity, reducing outputs and affecting the economy through smaller GDP contributions.

Tourism accounts for around 2.9% of South Africa’s GDP, and the Cape Town water crisis has revealed just how water shortages can affect a destination’s appeal – both for tourists and investors. The fewer the tourists, the less foreign currencies are being exchanged and spent in SA’s most popular tourist destinations.

The property and urban development markets have taken a serious knock in recent years, with fewer investors willing to inject capital into areas where basic human needs (like access to clean water) aren’t being met.

In a nutshell, water scarcity negatively affects the South African economy across many sectors – and the longer the elephant in the room is ignored, the sooner it’ll sit on us.


How we can Improve the Water Situation

So, we’ve taken a look at which South African industries use the most water, as well as how water scarcity affects them (and the greater South African economy). The outlook is bleak, but by no means critical.

Alternative water sources are already being effectively utilised across many of the industrial spheres mentioned above. Industrial greywater reporposing solutions and desalienation plants are turning the tide on this South African water crisis in a meaningful way.

By capturing rainwater wherever possible, through the use of water storage tanks, we can make best use of a precious commodity that literally falls from the sky and into our laps.

Let’s save our South Africa, one drop at a time…

Top Reasons to Consider Reservoirs for Game Farms and Resorts

Water reservoirs for game farms and resorts are an essential investment that provides a number of advantages – particularly within the dry, hot South African bush. As an integral part of the local economy, game lodges host large numbers of tourists from all over the world. Lodge and resort owners often have a challenging balance to maintain, between ensuring that guests receive a world-class experience and ensuring that reserves are operated according to sound ecological practices.

Water reservoirs therefore need to meet a number of unique requirements. They need to provide water to lodges, chalets and other buildings within game resorts. They also need to provide much-needed water within dry areas, either to relieve pressure from boreholes or provide water for wildlife water holes. If the lodge is located in a low water area, this balancing act becomes even more precarious. Without an adequate water supply, resorts will face serious problems.

How Water Reservoirs Help South African Game Lodges

Some of the ways that water reservoirs help game lodges in South Africa include the following:

  • Emergency contingency plans. Droughts, fires, burst municipal pipes, dried up boreholes and many other disasters are not something that any resort owner likes to think about. These are all potential risks that require some type of emergency contingency plan. A reservoir is often the simplest and most cost-effective way to protect a resort against such risks. If water is interrupted for any reason, a large reservoir will be able to provide water without the need to shut down operations.
  • Reduced municipal water bills. A large scale reservoir can also help to keep costs reduced by minimising the need for municipal water supply. In the case of resorts and lodges that typically require a large amount of water, this can be especially helpful. Depending on the size of the resort, the amount of water typically required on any given month, the types of animals kept (and the number), whether or not there are any natural water sources and various other factors, one or more reservoirs can make a major impact.
  • Water access in arid, remote regions. Lodges and game reserves located far away from urban centres face even more of a challenge – particularly when no natural water sources are present. In this instance, water conservation is vital for any type of farm, helping to keep wildlife alive and provide water for human consumption and use. Reservoirs built in these areas do not only help resorts, but can also help local rural communities as well.

SBS Tanks offer a wide range of water tanks for various applications. To learn more about water reservoirs for game farms and resorts, contact us today and let us know how we can assist.