Assisting basic services delivery with technology

April 2002 News

National Government has placed a high order of priority on the delivery of basic services to all the people of South Africa. This includes potable water and sanitation. Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, seems to be determined to pull out all the stops with recent estimates indicating that more than half of all South Africans already having access to 6000 litres of free water per month. However, in September last year the minister lambasted local government for the lack of delivery at the coalface. A 'lack of capacity' was cited as being the main reason for the poor performance.

There is little doubt that if Government's aggressive targets are to be met, technology will have to be embraced as a facilitator. This month's feature, focussing on water and wastewater management, seeks to highlight some of the technologies that can assist in the achieving of these goals. For example, the Kruger Park application shows how technology can be used to provide effective delivery of water services without increasing staff complements. Government has allocated billions of taxpayers' rands to water delivery - let us help them spend it effectively!

As a follow on to my comments in last month's column regarding ADSL technology, true to form Telkom has not yet announced the local launch of this means of connectivity - this despite assurances of a "definite first quarter announcement". At the time of going to print (early in April 2002), I was unable to get an official comment from Telkom on the matter.

For my sins I now wear a new hat, that of the newly elected President of the SA Institute of Measurement and Control. Held to coincide with Electrex 2002, the SAIMC AGM saw some new faces elected to its national council. The 2002 Vice President is Johan Steyn (Kübler Africa), with Piet Janse van Rensburg (Eskom - Kriel) and Tony Holme (Citect Africa) also elected to the council. Existing council members that retain their seats include Musa Duma (Siemens), Richard Teagle (Festo), Cornu Perold (Siemens) and Dick Perry (Fluor SA).

Judging by the turnout at the SAIMC's Bus Business Breakfast, there is still a significant interest in fieldbus technologies and their implementation. The breakfast, organised in conjunction with Reed Exhibitions, was held on the last morning of Electrex 2002. Attendees were invited to hear 'from the horse's mouth' some of the hard facts about fieldbus installations. The speakers, Paulo de Sousa (Ram-Tec), Altus Mostert (SAR Electronics) and Ricky Huyser (AST Group) presented their experiences in dealing with Profibus, ASI, DeviceNet and Interbus-S.

"Despite managing to acquire a larger venue for the breakfast, we still had to turn a large number of people away," commented Chris Townsend, partner at Cost Time Resources (CTR manages the secretarial functions of the SAIMC). "A large number of companies booked entire tables, with individuals making up the balance of the reservations."

Feedback from people that attended the breakfast was overwhelmingly positive. Piet Ferreira from Sasol had the following to say, "Thanks for an excellent breakfast! It was a true learning experience, worth the early morning drive from Secunda."

Graeme Bell

Editor, SA Instrumentation & Control

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