CAPE TOWN – France has offered the Western Cape assistance with the drought afflicting the region, French Consul-General Laurent Amar said on Wednesday.
“It is too early to give details but we could absolutely engage on this and help to avoid disaster and also to find long-term solutions, first by providing finance and investment,” Amar said at a meeting with editors from Independent Media.
He said the finance would likely come from the French Development Agency, adding that it was ready to work with municipalities in the province.
“We could also provide technological solutions through our companies. We have strong experience in the field of water treatment,” Amar added.
He said there had been an exploratory meeting with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille this week, and that France was serious about helping the region find ways to stabilise water supply.
Ambassador Christophe Farnaud confirmed that “our companies have already been in touch with the local authorities”.
It is understood that Germany has also come forward to offer Cape Town and surrounding areas assistance with the worst drought in a century.
The mayor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment, but De Lille in an interview last month confirmed that the city was looking to the French Development Agency, the German Development Bank and local banks for funding for water augmentation projects after having used R2.6 billion from its own coffers so far.
The city council this week approved plans to introduce a water levy that would be weighted on the market worth of individual properties to supplements it finance for water projects. It has come under criticism from the African National Congress, in opposition in the city and the province, for not acting sooner despite researchers warning more than a decade ago that the region was heading for a dire water crisis.
African News Agency AND IOL
PHOTO: France’s Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud. Picture: Riana Howa/IOL