More than 780 million people globally do not have access to clean and safe water, including more than 300 million in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This creates dangerous situations for those that need drinking water as well as water to sustain an agricultural base for crops and food.

SAP partners Britehouse, a Dimension Data company, and Intel are leveraging their technology to help reduce water access issues and improve the lives of locals, particularly in water-sensitive areas.

“We need to manage the efficiency of water utilization across crops. We have dams to help contain water, but, for example, when a 33,000-hectare farm draws a lot of water, we need to make sure enough water flows back into the rivers for others. Especially if there’s another country on the other side of the river,” said Deon du Preez, director of Innovation for Dimension Data’s SAP division. “The potential is there to cause issues between communities. That’s the last thing you want.”

Britehouse has built a bulk water management solution on SAP Cloud Platform, as a means to address these issues and improve water flow to both crops and people. A Sankey diagram visualization dashboard as well as satellite image map are used to manage bulk water, similar to production planning in factories.

“Irrigation of crops needs to be done efficiently,” du Preez said. “SAP Cloud Platform allows agricultural companies to ultimately view satellite imagery to determine the health of crops. By reviewing images that show how healthy the crop growth is at a particular moment in time, farmers can determine where more fertilization or more water is needed and where it’s not needed. It absolutely helps you manage your bottom line to get the best yield out of a farming community.”

Improved Business, Improved Lives

Britehouse is helping agricultural companies in Swaziland and other Sub-Saharan countries understand that technology is an investment that can help at a business level and a humanitarian level when it comes to making better choices around water.

“We want to drive more efficiency, especially since water is a limited resource, as well as bring more visibility into future projection of water usage. Machine learning will assist in the future and help balance the management of bulk water in conjunction with achieving the best possible yield of sugar cane, and how the cost of producing and selling sugar cane is impacted by world sugar prices,” du Preez said.

Agriculture is a fairly new industry to Dimension Data, but the company has developed long-term roadmaps for customers leveraging SAP Leonardo and Intel that will efficiently manage everything from harvest vehicle scheduling, using SAP Vehicle Insights, crops, and factories — creating intelligent enterprises through the Internet of the Things (IoT) and machine learning solutions.

“This is where technology plays such a critical role in improving lives. We now have access to information that we didn’t have before. Our customer, the Royal Swazi Sugar Corporation, is one of the first adopters of SAP HANA in Southern Africa,” du Preez said. “They’re a big company and together we talk about how we can utilize great technology and information to tackle African problems. There are massive intelligent enterprise opportunities in Africa, but also in South America and Asia-Pacific too.”

Recognizing Value from Technology Investments

Eventually, Dimension Data hopes to employ more IoT sensors, weather predictions, and satellite imagery for Royal Swazi Sugar to manage the effective growth, harvest, and manufacture of sugar cane, such that the customer delivers the most cost-effective yield, and the best possible return against global sugar prices. All of this will need to be done in a very responsible manner.

“Right now, what we’re trying to do is showcase water utilization to get more business value. As water is dispersed through different areas, water flow can be predicted and bring alerts when water needs to be added. Also, predicting potential rainfall and how it will impact overall water management is crucial,” du Preez said.

Components of these types of projects can be applied to large-scale projects too, perhaps helping an area like Cape Town, South Africa, which almost ran out of water earlier this year.

“The principles of managing water on a farm, although it’s a smaller scale, are exactly the same. The good news is it’s in the early days. It’s been a journey, but opportunities exist to further scale out. We’re exploring and testing all the possible boundaries which is exciting,” du Preez said.

Now is the time to socialize the intelligent enterprise with customers, he added. “Everybody has some IoT project, but they’re not formulating it to drive business financial value,” du Preez said. “The technology is here, and it is about how we effectively leverage it to drive value — and help the world.”

SAP and our partners. Improving lives. That is our purpose.