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Opportunities Arising from Increasing Water Scarcity and Decreasing Cost of Technology will Result in Double-digit Market Growth
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Africa has the largest number of water-scarce countries than any other continent in the world, and the majority of the continent relies on rainfall and surface water for their water supply. Of the 54 countries in Africa, 39 have a coastline, making desalination a logical solution. Insufficient infrastructure is a major reason why water is a challenge in Africa. Water projects only account for a cumulative average of 1.3% of total infrastructure investment in the continent. The high CAPEX and OPEX costs of desalination are a major restraint to the development of the desalination market in Africa.
This study provides an analysis of the desalination market in Africa, focussing on desalination market states and developments in the regional segments of North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), and South Africa. The desalination market across all African regions felt the effects of the global economic downturn between 2015 and 2017 and has since begun to stabilise and show signs of growth. North African countries are primary users of desalination in Africa. Desalination is a main source of water in the arid region where rainfall is minimal. As such, the desalination market in this region is mature and will maintain its dominant position on the continent in the forecast period. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South African regions, however, desalination is seen as a way to diversify water resources rather than serving as a main source of water. The desalination market in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to achieve high growth leading up to 2022 considering its state of immaturity. The South African desalination market is expected to achieve low growth leading up to 2022 due to the high CAPEX costs associated with desalination plants. Innovative containerised/modular models are going in popularity in Sub-Saharan and South Africa due to the financial risks inherent in constructing large desalination plants.
Considering the high financial costs associated with desalination plants, there is a shift to the BOT and BOOT contracting models to share the risk across the public and private sectors. The DBO model will increase in popularity as municipalities will seek a “one-stop-shop” from design to build to O&M of plants. The most commonly applied desalination technologies for existing plants in Africa are Reverse Osmosis (RO), Multi-stage Flash (MSF), and Multi-effect Distillation (MED). In recent years, MSF and MED have declined significantly due to their high energy requirements, and electrodialysis and nanofiltration have increased. RO will maintain dominance. As energy consumption is the most significant component of the overall operational costs of desalination plants, reaching as much as 44%, technology companies have the opportunity to develop leverage energy reduction devices that have the potential to reduce energy requirements by 20 to 40%.
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