Market intelligence

GreenCape's Water Sector Market Intelligence Report highlights business opportunities for water in the green economy in the Western Cape. It targets investors and entrepreneurs interested in the business of water, and seeks to promote the Western Cape as the leading place to do business in the green economy.

Opportunities: fast facts

The current drought and the expected longer term water constraints in the region are key drivers for investment in this sector. The demand for technologies and services that enable resilience to water scarcity has substantially increased across all urban markets, and new investment opportunities have opened up in four key areas:

  • water metering and monitoring
  • water efficiency
  • water reuse
  • alternative water supply

The drought has placed considerable strain on water resources across the province, leading to risks of insufficient supply, business shutdown, financial losses and retrenchments. In addition, water restrictions are becoming more and more stringent across the province, and businesses and residents are under increasing pressure to reduce their demand of municipal water supply. The drought has also resulted in municipalities procuring emergency augmentation supplies, and re-assessing their longer term plans for drought resilient supply options. As a result, numerous opportunities have been identified:


Smart water metering systems

  • The demand for smart water metering systems is increasing across the private sector, as a tool for improved water management in the context of the drought.

Potential market for Water Conservation and Water Demand Management 

  • The potential market for Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WCWDM) projects that reduce non-revenue water in South African metros is estimated at ~R2 billion a year, of which ~R500 million is unfunded.

Water reuse in the industrial sector

  • Water reuse in the industrial sector presents opportunities for both technology and service providers. The total Gross Value Add (GVA) for moderate and highly water intense users in the WC in 2016, excluding agriculture, was R155 billion.

Water efficient devices and greywater reuse systems

  • New residential and commercial property developments in the province are a key market for water efficient devices and greywater reuse systems, presenting a potential market of ~R900 million per year.

Potable water reuse 

  • Municipalities are increasingly interested in potable water reuse of their municipal wastewater. In Cape Town there is a potential market of around R2 billion.

Groundwater and rainwater systems 

  • There are a number of opportunities relating to groundwater and rainwater systems across all private sector markets. The potential residential market in the Western Cape could be worth ~R5.8 billion.

Large-scale seawater desalination 

  • Large-scale seawater desalination is an emerging market that presents a number of opportunities for investors. Globally, equity returns in desalination projects are typically at least 14%, with higher returns (up to 18%) expected in higher risk countries.

GreenCape’s work in this space

GreenCape's water programme concentrates on two broad areas: firstly, we aim to improve the productive use of water to support sustainable economic development; secondly, we promote the uptake of green technologies and businesses. Our overall goal is to increase job creation and investment into green water technology and services, and to improve water resource productivity.

We do this through our market research and intelligence activities; by networking and matchmaking businesses; through cleantech advocacy; and research into the economic opportunities and constraints of water.

Key reading

The resources listed here are essential reading, which provide a greater overview of the opportunities in this sector. For other related tools, resources and information see our business support page

For more water related resources, please view our library.

News and events

First solar powered desalination plant launched in South Africa

The first highly cost-effective solar powered desalination plant in South Africa will be commissioned by the end of October 2018 at Witsand, Hessequa Municipality, Western Cape. Read more


GreenCape hosts event: Opportunities for groundwater use in the Western Cape

On the 6th of December, the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town hosted a groundwater information event.  Topics of discussion included an overview of groundwater resources in... Read more

City of Cape Town hosts drought crisis plumber's forum

On the 29th of November, the City of Cape Town hosted a drought crisis meeting and exhibition event. The event was an opportunity for plumbers, as well as those involved with... Read more