Key Partners

Technology and commercial partners 

The inclusion of Technology and commercial partners in the SASTEP technology value chain was conceptualized to mitigate the innovation valley of death that has plagued similar intervention in the water and sanitation sector. Several studies have highlighted the low adoption and translation of innovation from development to market and use by intended end-users. The inclusion of technology and commercial partners i.e., entrepreneurs, manufacturers and provides a cohort with requisite business/product/market development skills and know how to traverse the innovation valley of death safely and successfully. This has proven to be a successful model, with a number of innovative technologies localized and commercialized. Listed below are the first cohort of the programme’s Technology and commercial partners.

 Technology Technology partner Local Commercial Partner License Agreement Demonstration Localization Local Manufacture 
1 Recycling Toilet Clear (Suzhou) Enviroloo     
2 Urine diverting toilet pedestal  EOOS Envirosan     
3 NEWgenerator University of South Florida WEC Water     
4 Aquonic Tank SCG Chemicals co., Ltd. Prana Water & Sanitation     
5 Arumloo loa flush pedestal Arumloo Arumloo     
6 Dewdrop Arumloo Arumloo     
7 Pitvaq Partners in Development Partners in Development     
8 LaDePa Parsep (Pty) Ltd      
9 EHTP-PCS Truesense      
10 Zambezi Eye       
11 Loowatt Loowatt      

The programme will periodically issue Calls to expand and onboard new technology and commercial partners.  

Funding partners 

SASTEP is WRC Programme jointly funded by the WRC), the department of science and innovation (DSI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).  


The triple helix model of innovation, as theorized by Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, is based on the interactions between universities engaging in basic research, industries producing commercial goods and governments regulating the market. Academia forms the foundation upon which SASTEP was conceptualized. The programme works with both local and international research institutions in the creation and application of knowledge and research outcomes/outputs to strengthen the SA sanitation national systems of innovation.


Commercial Partners 

SASTEP aims to foster a local sanitation industry to increase access to improved sanitation, reduce pollution, improve water security, create economic opportunities, jobs and contribute to the country’s GDP. The programme works with the private sector companies to establish a database of commercial partners (entrepreneurs) who are investing, participating and driving a new sanitation industry. The commercial partners are matched with innovative sanitation solutions and technologies that are ready for commercialisation and local manufacture. To date, SASTEP has been able to support 4 commercial partners to locally manufacture innovative sanitation technologies.  

Researchers/Project Leaders 

SASTEP provide funding to innovators and technology partners to conduct the demonstration and field-testing of their innovations/technologies as well as facilitating access to appropriate testbed sites in municipalities, water boards and other relevant site. The purpose of the field-testing and demonstration is to evaluate and validate the functionality, performance, and user acceptance of the innovations. To ensure the accuracy of the outcomes, SASTEP utilizes private sector organizations to conduct independent technology evaluation on behalf of WRC and SASTEP 

The programme also deals with barriers that may hinder uptake post demonstration by providing support which includes initiating research studies to identify and address policy, regulatory, capacity, financial, institutional and political barriers that may hinder the adoption of successfully demonstrated innovations. Other support includes assisting commercial partners with developing and refining bankable business plans, creating business and revenue models and other commercialization and industrialization support. These activities are often carried out by private sector research organizations on behalf of WRC and SASTEP. 

Private Sector involvement in innovation uptake through CSI 

Many private companies are able to donate or spend some funds on social upliftment of the communities around where they operate. Trialogue (CSI Consulting Company), estimated that South African companies spent an estimated R10.3-billion on corporate social investment (CSI) in 2021 with R52,53 million was spend on water and sanitation projects. SASTEP has been engaging corporates to spur uptake of innovative sanitation technologies through CSI projects in South Africa. To date, 34 Corporates and Mining companies have been engaged and 7 are considering innovative sanitation technologies in their future projects. 


SASTEP programme partners the local government to demonstrate innovative sanitation technologies as well as providing implementation support through capacity building, policy and by laws revision. Some of the key local government partners are discuss below briefly: 


SALGA plays an active role in advising and encouraging innovation within local government through technology and innovation roadshows. SALGA and WRC often partner in knowledge sharing and networking events for innovations dissemination with key stakeholders.  

Johannesburg Water (City of Johannesburg) 

WRC partnered with Johannesburg Water on demonstrating innovative sanitation solutions in the informal settlement of Johannesburg in Soweto, namely the Clear recycle toilet system Mofolo North and NEWgenerator recycle toilet system in Slovoville. The sites have been operational since November 2021. 

Mopani District Municipality (MDM) 

WRC partnered with MDM on demonstrating the Aquonic innovative sanitation systems at the Giyani WTW and Matsambo Ngambi Farm in Giyani. The system has been commissioned at Giyani WTW in June 2023 whilst at commissioning at Matsambo Ngambi planned for August 2023.   

City of eThekwini 

WRC and City of eThekwini signed a Memorandum of Understanding for demonstrating sludge beneficiation technologies at Kwamashu WTW site in Durban. The technologies to be demonstrated converts sludge into valuable products such as fertilizer, biochar, hydrochar and biogas depending on feed sludge quality. The project is at has been kicked off in August 2023.   

City of Cape Town and City of eThekwini 

WRC is busy with Memorandum of Understanding for demonstrating innovative sanitation technologies in City of Cape Town and City of eThekwini to improve the resilience of sanitation infrastructure and services. The purpose of the demonstrations will not only showcase the performance of the innovative technologies but enable the understanding of the solutions for building climate-resilience, build better disaster management approaches and use the data to assess scale up and economics in future.  


Supply Side – Financing and Investment 

It is vital that as the demand for innovative sanitation technologies is stirred in various market segments, so should the industrial finance be available for scaling up manufacturing of these technologies. WRC has been engaging with both private and public industrial financing organisations such as DTIC, SEFA, IDC, PIC and TIA for in order to understand their requirements and financing instruments offered. The aim was to develop a database and framework for industrial funding would be that will enable facilitation of funding access for manufacturers of innovative sanitations technologies.   

Demand Side – Financing Investment 

The DBSA, DWS and SALGA developed National Water Partnership Programme (NWPP) to address some of South Africa’s water challenges. The Water Partnerships Office (WPO) has been established by DBSA to facilitate implementation of the NWPP. The WPO will design standardised programmes to assist municipalities and water boards to scale the implementation of water and sanitation projects in partnership with the private sector WPO assist in structuring bankable projects that can either be funded through various options such as through on the municipality’s balance sheet or making use of project finance models such as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) or other innovative financing solutions. 

WPO will establish the Non-Sewered Sanitation (NSS) sub-programme to promote and develop municipal projects to implement innovative off grid sanitation technologies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is offering to fund the NSS sub-programme within the WPO. The WRC, BMGF and WPO has developed the results framework for WPO to establish the NSS sub-programme and the DBSA has just appointed Head for WPO who will be responsible for implementation.

Key Partnerships 

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) 

The Water Research Commission (WRC) signed an MoU with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the purpose of the MoU is to establish a strategic collaboration between DBE and the WRC to collaborate on the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) initiative and other initiatives to provide and improve water supply and sanitation services in South African public schools. The SAFE initiative was a result of a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation (SONA) address in response to recent school deaths related to unsafe sanitation facilities in some schools, the aim of the initiative is to eradicate pit latrines. The Water Research Commission through its sanitation technology acceleration programme, the South African Sanitation Technologies Enterprise Programme (SASTEP), is demonstrating appropriate next generation sanitation technologies in schools. Demonstrations aim to strengthen the school sanitation toolbox by using evidence-based demonstration research to curate next generation sanitation technologies that can address school sanitation service delivery issues and provide hygienic and dignified sanitation service delivery in SA schools irrespective of class or geographic location.  

Since 2020, 8 schools in Gauteng, the Northwest, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape have received innovative sanitation technologies as part of these demonstration projects, four more schools are in the planning phase. The goal of these projects is to demonstrate their robustness, appropriateness, and value proposition. The data from these demonstration projects will be used to strengthen the argument for the inclusion of innovative technologies in school sanitation, as well as to provide an understanding of the CAPEX, OPEX, O&M, and social aspects (user acceptance, behavioural change, etc.). The WRC plans to filter the data collected, lessons learned, and knowledge into a school sanitation toolbox. This toolbox will inform and direct school sanitation stakeholders and decision-makers on available technologies, costs, operational models, and behavioural changes needed to improve sanitation in schools within their spheres of influence. It will also contribute to recommendations to enhance and improve school sanitation norms and standards. 

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) 

WRC held engagements with DHET on potential partnership in demonstrating the Next Generation Sanitation (NGS) technologies in higher education institutions (HEIs) and TVETs especially those located in water scarce areas. This is a two-sided initiative as it will address DHET’s sanitation infrastructure challenges and allow DHET to assess and support skills requirements for mass roll out of the NGS. The demonstrations will entail demonstration of NGS technologies at selected HEI and TVET colleges sites, a DHET and/or TVET will be provided with a suitable innovative sanitation solution. Additionally, most of the innovative sanitation technologies under the SASTEP portfolio are still nascent and will require new skills, upskilling and capacity building for the emerging sanitation sector. Current skills and capabilities in sanitation sits with the civil engineering, the built environment and construction. The emerging sanitation solutions will require new areas of competence and DHET can play a pivotal role in preparing HEIs and TVETs for development and nurturing of required skills for the new emerging sanitation industry. 

Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS)

The relationship between the WRC and the DWS is governed by the Water Research Act of 1971. This Act establishes the WRC as an independent statutory body, but it also gives the DWS a role in overseeing the WRC’s work. The DWS is responsible for appointing the WRC’s Board of Directors, and it also has the power to approve the WRC’s research programs. The two organizations work together to ensure that South Africa has a sustainable water supply and that the country’s water resources are managed effectively. This partnership has helped to make South Africa a leader in water management in Africa, and it will continue to be important in the years to come. DWS is responsible for regulating and providing policy direction for the water and sanitation sector. DWS developed a Water and Sanitation Master Plan, which sets out the critical priorities to be addressed by the water sector in the period from 2018– 2030. The Masterplan has two main sections Water and Sanitation Management and Enabling Environment. DWS also developed the National Sanitation Policy (2016). The SASTEP programme is aligned to policy documents. 

  • Achieve universal sustainable sanitation provision. 
  • Develop, demonstrate, and validate appropriate alternative waterless and off grid sanitation solutions. 
  • Develop and demonstrate appropriate wastewater technologies for cost effectiveness, energy efficiency and beneficiation. 

Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) 

WRC held engagements with DPWI on potential partnership in demonstrating the Next Generation Sanitation technologies in over 92 000 public facilities managed by the department particularly those situated in water scarce areas. The DPWI developed the Integrated Resource Efficiency and Renewable Programme (IREREP) with the aim to reduce the government’s consumption of energy and water, and the production of waste on government-owned facilities. The programme will introduce up to 3 740 MW of equivalent capacity through renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, while saving 47-million kilolitres of water and reducing waste to landfill by one-million tonnes. 

The iREREP is a 30-year programme that will be implemented in phases. The first phase of the programme focuses on the procurement of private sector energy service companies to deploy energy efficiency, water efficiency, alternative waste management and embedded solar PV and other renewable energy solutions throughout the department’s significant property portfolio. This initiative could see the large-scale adoption of next generation sanitation infrastructure and allow DPWI to achieve their IREREP targets. Several meetings have been held with the department to present next generation sanitation technologies that are ready for adoption. Engagements with the department continues.  

The Department of Trade and Industry 

The SASTEP programme aims to foster a local sanitation industry (manufacturing and services) that would increase access to proper sanitation, reduce pollution, improve water security, create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, and contribute to the country’s GDP. The programme is aligned to the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition (DTIC) Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) strategy to address commercialization, localization, and manufacturing by bringing on board capable partners to provide an industrial support base for the local and regional markets. The Water and Sanitation Industry Master Plan, DTIC, complements, and enhance the 2018 DWS Water and Sanitation Master Plan by elaborating the industrialisation potential. The vision of the Water and Sanitation Industry Master Plan is to create “a well-functioning value chain that enables reliable, affordable, modern and sustainable water and sanitation supply, use and management while maximizing local economic development”. Dtic is an important partner to the SASTEP programme as the Master plan speaks to the industrialization objective. 

Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) 

Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) has been requested by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) to assist with the development of a Water and Sanitation Industrialisation Master Plan for South Africa. TIPS has worked on several of these Master Plans in collaboration with industry stakeholders, government, and unions. The outcome is expected to articulate the development of industrial clusters in the water and sanitation sectors. As this is linked to the SASTEP’s industrialization objective, common areas and synergic opportunities are being explored to ensure that the master plan delivers on the promise envisioned. 

The Water and Sanitation Industrialisation Master Plan focuses on industrial development, with strong links with other dtic Master Plans, particularly iron and steel, plastics, and chemicals with core objective of sustained growth in output while upgrading technologies and competitiveness and to support national development objectives, many of which are aligned to the SASTEP objectives, such as  

  • Large-scale job creation
  • Small business support
  • Increased black ownership, including by workers/communities
  • More equitable remuneration and career mobility
  • Technology upgrading and spill overs