PIONEERING: The site where the first Kusini Water Cape Town Desalination Plant will be installed at the V&A Waterfront. Inset is Murendeni Mafumo, founder of Kusini Water. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
CAPE TOWN - Entrepreneur  Murendeni Mafumo is in full flight after getting his “wings” from a Redbull competition and is making a difference to under-served and rural communities who often don't have access to clean drinking water.

Mafumo, a scientist and founder of Kusini Water, launched the firm’s first solar-powered desalination plant in Cape Town yesterday (correct), set to be operational later this year.

Kusini Water is a locally-designed solar-powered water purification system that uses an activated carbon filter made from locally-sourced macadamia nut shells.

The Cape Town plant, to be built at a site located on the Granger Bay side of the V&A Waterfront, will be capable of producing 4 000 litres of fresh water an hour, or enough water for more than 4 800 households a day.

Mafumo was one of 16 social entrepreneurs who participated in the Red Bull Amaphiko (meaning wings in isixhosa) Academy last year, a programme designed to “give wings” to grassroots social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their communities.

Mafumo said the aim of Kusini Water was to bring about a systemic change in communities currently underserved when it comes to water and sanitation.

He has subsequently launched a number of Kusini Water purification plants in and around South Africa to help deliver clean water to rural communities and to reduce reliance on municipal water.

The first Kusini Water system was launched nearly two years ago in Shayandima, Limpopo,  and the firm’s first mobile container launched in October last year is supplying water for the community of Extension 10 in eMalahlani West.

The Cape Town plant, however, will be the first on this large scale and the desalination plant will use seawater from offshore marine waters and discharge concentrated brine effluent through pipeline infrastructure.

GIFTED ENTREPRENEUR: Amaphiko Social Entrepreneur Murendeni Mafumo, who has developed a water filtration system for use in informal settlements. Pictures: Luke Daniel
Mafumo said he was not at liberty to disclose how much the plant would cost to install, saying it would create full-time employment for about three people, set to get off the ground in September and fully operational by end of October.

Kusini Water’s system can treat water from any source, removing more than 99.9 percent of all bacteria and viruses and could produce 40 times more water than reverse osmosis, the current best practice, and uses about half the energy.

The launch of Kusini Water’s new Cape Town plant forms part of a programme that will assist the City of Cape Town’s low-income communities.

The water will be sold to households in affluent areas and for every litre bought, 20 litres will be given to communities in the Cape Flats.

Mafumo said profits from this plant would go towards the construction and operation of a future plant planned for the Cape Flats that would provide advanced Kusini Water treatment systems and water recovery for gardening and common toilet flushing.

Mafumo said Kusini Water operates on a social franchise model through which he aimed to build a network of locally-owned franchise water businesses.

“Kusini Water follows a shared-value approach that aims to reconnect companies’ success with social progress,” said Mafumo.