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Exclusive interview with Gerardt P. Viljoen

“We want utilities to start thinking out of the box on water solutions, capabilities and solutions,” says Gerardt P. Viljoen

Viljoen is the Managing Director of Sensus SA and GM for Sensus in Africa, who will address the water conference during African Utility Week in Cape Town in May. Sensus is also a returning gold sponsor at the event.

Welcome back to African Utility Week! Please tell us more about exciting projects that Sensus is currently involved in?
As you know we were chosen to supply the northern part of the UK with AMI infrastructure as part of their smart metering strategy and we are pleased to report that this deployment is really going well. Since our previous attendance at African Utility Week we also had really exciting changes to the organisation as a whole. In November 2016, Sensus became part of a larger family called Xylem.

Xylem Inc. is a large American water technology provider, enabling customers worldwide to transport, treat, test and efficiently use water in public utility, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial settings. The addition of Sensus to their product portfolio means that we can now reach even further into the water sector and are able to supply real end to end solutions to our customers.

How worrisome is the water situation in South Africa currently?
If you look at the news feeds, daily papers, social media (locally and internationally) you will realise that water is at the forefront of almost every discussion point. Cape Town is now being labeled as one of the first cities ever to run dry. So, in short, the water situation in South Africa is not only worrisome it should be considered as THE top priority for any form of economic sustainability. Increasing storing capabilities, reviewing traditional catchment areas and weather pattern changes, recycling of water and waste water treatment, network infrastructure maintenance and demand side management should all be top NATIONAL priorities going forward.

In Cape Town in particular?
Disastrous… Need I say more.

You will address the upcoming African Utility Week’s water conference, can you give us a preview of your message?
It’s important to not only have smart metering. Smart metering should be intelligent. How to make smart metering intelligent and use it to solve infrastructure, supply and demand issues is what we are all about this year.

What is your vision for the water industry on the continent?
A great man once said “I have a dream” this dream was so vivid in his mind’s eye that he could literally see it. By being the change he wanted to see in others, he changed the world forever. For everyone in Africa to readily have open access to clean sustainable water is a dream. To deliver this in real life would be my vision.

How important is African Utility Week on the water utility calendar?
There are several events in Africa that focus on utilities and alike. With African Utility Week now also putting more focus on water as opposed to energy it is certainly climbing up the ladder of importance. If one can get utilities to start thinking out of the box on water solutions, capabilities and solutions it would have been worth our while.

Anything you would like to add?
Water is a finite resource and should be treasured. Let us all try and solve water challenges together.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.