“South Africa is in the grip of a severe drought which is seriously impacting 2,7 million households desperate for drinking water, and threatening the existence of farmers, the lives of their livestock and the stability of the country’s economy,” warns Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of Bigen Africa, an African solutions-driven infrastructure development Group.
With the vision to improve the quality of life of all through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions, the Group provides engineering, management consulting, development finance and advisory services with an emphasis on providing innovative solutions to meet individual needs. As a thought leader with a strong “environmental conscience”, Bigen Africa is now challenging its employees to take action in addressing the needs of drought-stricken communities.
“Five of the nine provinces are in dire need,” says Dr Khoza, a recognised continental business leader, passionate social activist and champion of human rights. “To help ensure that the struggling communities have access to both drinking water and that needed for other purposes, Bigen Africa is now proactively supporting Water Shortage SA in its efforts to supply bottled water to the regions with the greatest need. As part of our Employee Volunteer Programme, we have asked our employees to donate bottled water every Friday, which the Group will then take to the Water Shortage SA collection points.
“The aim is to collect 2 000 litres of potable water per week and we appeal to all South African companies to join this much-needed initiative and set up their own regular collection and delivery system to help ensure that South Africa’s thirsty communities have access to life-giving water. Alternatively, they are welcome to drop off their bottles at any of the Bigen Africa branches across South Africa.”
Doing good while doing business
The Group is responding to the present need based on its creed of “doing good while doing business”, but is also well aware of the ongoing nature of Africa’s water and other environmental problems.
“It is part of the Group’s mandate to include a focus on environmental imperatives in providing infrastructure development services aimed at transforming the lives of tens of thousands of impoverished and socially deprived Africans,” says Dr Khoza. “It is a necessary response to the need for environmental sustainability.”
A good example is Bigen Africa’s project involvement with the Luvuvhu River Government Water Scheme in the Thohoyandou region of South Africa. The Group was appointed by the Department of Water Affairs to undertake the design, construction monitoring and administration of various pipeline upgrades.
Bigen Africa was also appointed the site supervision and contract management service provider for the Clanwilliam Dam structure in the Cederberg Local Municipality, which includes raising the wall from its current height of 43m to 56m. This project was commissioned by the Department of Water and Sanitation, and will result in an additional 70 million cubic metres of water a year flowing to farmers downstream.
Another fine example is Bigen Africa’s appointment by the Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources as its Employer’s Representative for the conceptual design development, EPC tender documents and construction supervision of the 360km North-South Carrier (NSC-2) regional water transfer system in Botswana. Bigen Africa won the Best International Project category in the 2015 Consulting Engineers South Africa annual awards for engineering excellence, enhanced regional economic growth and improved quality of life in Botswana while, most importantly, averting a major water supply catastrophe in Gaborone.
“As Bigen Africa continues to expand its activities into the continent, it will persist in promoting social, economic, technical, financial, and environmental benefits, taking into account the recent Paris Agreement protocols reached by countries urging governments, business and civil society to incorporate sustainability practices into their daily activities,” says Dr Khoza. Working with governments, business and civil society as partners, Bigen Africa is geared to also address some of the continent’s environmental issues ingeniously, in order to ensure sustainability and the survival of mankind, and our planet as we know it!
“On our beautiful continent, there are various issues besides frequent water shortages, such as food insecurity, air and solid waste pollution, poor and aging infrastructure and bad agricultural practices such as overgrazing, intensive pesticide use and soil erosion, which we need to be mindful of.”