South Africa’s economy is under massive pressure, and there really is no time like the present to find a way to ‘sweat’ the country’s existing assets more effectively and efficiently to achieve service delivery, contain costs, and give the country’s fiscus more room to flex its financial muscle.

Doing so can contribute towards closing South Africa’s inequality gap while building back better to nurture a nation that’s accessible, liveable and sustainable – and it can only be achieved through collaboration and co-operation between public and private sectors working together to overcome the country’s significant socio-economic challenges.

Keep SA moving

The transport sector, which really does keep the wheels of the economy rolling, is one area where government can leverage more mileage from its assets, particularly in light of the Department of Transport’s Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025, which prioritises safety across all transport types as an enabler of service delivery.

Smart mobility expert Ivan Reutener notes that the sector has been challenged to find and maintain a balance between prioritising commuters’ health and safety, and making a profit, as well as an ongoing need for infrastructure development and maintenance.

“Whether in rail or road transport, technology can be used to manage the demand on rolling stock and vehicles more effectively, ensuring that hardware is used optimally, and that queues and overcrowding are avoided,” he says. “Human-centric planning solutions can be implemented, which organise spaces and processes to the changing needs of pedestrians and commuters, while minimising wasteful expenditure and avoiding crowding, at a time when social distancing is paramount to the country’s safety.”

Gauteng’s strategy Growing Gauteng Together Through Smart Mobility 2030 provides exciting technology areas to improve the current transport systems, such as the modernisation of the mini-bus taxi industry that commute 69% of the Gauteng households to socio-economic activities and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to achieve safe, reliable and secure public transportation equitable for all.

Be wiser about water

Similarly, a data-driven approach can help the country manage its water more effectively – essential for a nation in continuing water crisis, despite having one of the cleanest water systems in the world.

“Completing a full audit of South African’s water infrastructure will help authorities gain a full understanding of its condition and shortcomings, as well as highlighting ways to remedy these,” says water engineer Sheilla de Carvalho. “A data driven approach informed by building information management will help strategic role-players in the sector to effectively plan, design, build and manage water infrastructure more effectively, enabling it to deliver clean and efficient water services to all South Africans.”

Keep the lights on and grow energy resources

Although South Africa’s demand for electricity dropped by approximately one-third at the beginning of the COVID-19 national lockdown allowing Eskom to complete short-term maintenance, 2021 has already started on a different note with the power utility announcing intermittent load shedding until September 2021. Although this is an effort to ease pressure on the already constrained grid, some of these blackouts are a result of infrastructure failures due to low levels of maintenance.

Add in the recent High Court ruling in NERSA’s favour that set the scene for higher electricity tariffs, the time is ripe for commercial and industrial energy consumers to see more affordable, more predictable power solutions that allow for manageable budgeting and cost controls in addition to the always-on energy supply that makes business sustainable.

“Implementing smart asset management programmes that focus on the reliability and quality of electricity supplies, combined with fit-for-purpose designed renewable energy generation solutions,

can help businesses – and government – avoid the damaging consequences of load-shedding and power failures caused by low maintenance levels,” explains energy consultant Philip Konig.

“The only constant in these stormy energy ‘waters’ is change, and the key survival is changing and adapting energy consumption patterns and sources, which can be achieved with smarter, more efficient asset management and renewable energy power,” he adds.

It cannot be disputed that properly managed assets save time and money, enabling service delivery to all levels of the economy. Asset management is an extricable part of enterprise strategy, and similarly, it is key to the successful implementation of Government’s far reaching economic and social development goals. Adding SMART renewable energy and storage solutions, with integrated demand management applications, results in a winning enterprise strategy in the challenging energy “waters”.

Public private partnerships can help Government harness the power of the fourth industrial revolution, using digital technology to manage data, monitor physical assets, and plan predictive and preventive maintenance to avoid unnecessary shutdowns, while maximising efficiencies and delivering services to all South Africans.

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