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Cape Town water crisis an opportunity for innovative start-ups

Cape Town water crisis an opportunity for innovative start-ups

The threat of taps across Cape Town running dry in less than three months due to an ongoing water shortage represents an opportunity for local start-ups to innovate.

Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape recently attended the launch of Retief Krige's WaterLoo greywater bank solution and has committed to meet more local start-ups that are innovating to solve the city's water challenges.

This followed conversation on twitter after users pressed her to meet with co-founders of another local water solution, AquaRenu, invented by former UCT engineering student Nkosinathi Nkomo who died in December.

Nkomo is reported to have fallen to his death from the fifth floor of a building in the city. While there are allegations of foul play, local police have refuted the claims.

Zille posted a tweet saying: "To those who messaged me about Nkosinathi Nkomo's tragic death: to suggest it is connected to another industrial designer who didn't know him is extremely unfair. The two systems are very different. If Nkosinathi had invited me to the launch of his product I would have been there!...Retief asked me to his launch so I went. I will try to make contact with AquaRenu."

Cape Town startups can innovate for the world

Peter Kovacs, a co-founder of the Global Start Awards, is currently in Africa in preparation for the first regional edition of the awards in Southern Africa, scheduled for October 2018.

He says Cape Town can lead innovation in water management.

"I heard that Cape Town may be the first City in human history to run out of water. That is a real problem to solve because start-ups are usually associated with fancy applications for problems that are not very big. The way I see it start-ups need to provide real solutions for real problems. Cape Town is the first city and unfortunately there will probably be more cities in the next decades. It has the chance to figure out solutions or literally build something that cities all over the world can learn from and also implement like California which is also likely to run out of water."

The Southern Africa leg of the Global Startup Awards open for entries next month. New regions that have joined this year include East Asia, the SAARC region and the Baltics.

Mckevin Ayaba, Regional Director for GSA-Southern Africa expects entries from up to 1000 start-ups from 12 countries.

Kovacs adds that while Africa has unique problems, he hopes that start-ups tackling common global issues like water shortages linked to climate change will also feature among the entries.

"I believe that because of its history and climate conditions Africa must have some amazing agricultural innovations that other parts of the world could also use. There is also an opportunity for global solutions to be localised here through the Global Startup Awards and our effort to connect future shapers into a global start-up ecosystem."

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