Katse Dam

Team member Jack Naidoo writes about engineering in South Africa in commemoration of Nelson Mandela Day today.

As we move further in to 2013, South Africa finds itself well beyond its teenage years as a “Free”, Democratic nation. The country has revolutionized itself in to being Africa’s leader and trend setter in modern day life. It is home to some of the worlds most innovative Engineers and its lack of services pre Apartheid (Before 1994), has motivated the new government to speed up efforts to make up for lost time! Being a young South African Engineer myself, I thought I’d share a personal highlight.

In 1996 Africa saw the opening of the Katse Dam which was Africa’s largest Arch Dam at the time. It was the first phase of a 3 part series, and would connect to Africa’s largest water transfer system. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a system of Dams and Tunnels throughout Lesotho and South Africa which is believed to eradicate South Africa’s lack of sustainable water and at the same time create an array of growth and advancements for Lesotho. With long term collaborations between these countries, the partnership has enhanced economies and relationships as well as opened the minds of many Africans.

The Katse Dam began to function fully by 1998 and the delivery system to South Africa is via a 4m diameter tunnel, which runs over a 45km length to the Lesotho/South Africa border. Without being too technical it is known that this Double Arch Dam is 185m high, and took 2,320,000 cubic meters of concrete during construction. Its thickness of 60m at the base is reduced to just 10m at the crest, and it holds 1.950 million cubic meters of water when full. Like all dams, the figures are impressive, but for Africa even more so.

These kinds of projects in Africa have opened doors for the new generation of professionals and will continue to provide many with insights on the supply of water. The milestone affects millions and it all stemmed from a basic need for water.

I find it necessary to dedicate a portion of these achievements to one man because it takes more than just money and engineering skills to visualize or conceive a project. We need enough reason to want to improve the lives of others and the freedom to identify these kinds of needs.

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”.
-Nelson Mandela

Individuals such as Nelson Mandela teach us that we can lend our skills to the world without asking for something in exchange. Regardless of your profession, your help is needed in some way, somewhere in the world. Every human being has this potential, and I am proud to climb these “hills” as an EWB team member!


For more information on the Katse Dam, go to http://www.golesotho.co.za

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