A collaborative effort between major players in the wind energy industry are creating a non-profit industry body which will work across sixteen countries to ensure wind power is fully utilised in the journey towards universal access to sustainable energy services in Southern Africa, while boosting jobs, skills and economic development.
This collaboration resulted in the launch of Wind SADC, a regional wind association for the Southern African region, helping countries and companies benefit from this renewable, economically attractive energy source that has grown rapidly in South Africa.
The launch took place at this year’s Windaba event in Cape Town. Windaba is hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) to provide the most relevant and current wind-sector information to strengthen the African wind-power industry.
The collaboration is between the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), GWEC, SAWEA and SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE). It will create a non-profit industry body which will work across sixteen countries to ensure wind power is fully utilised in the journey towards universal access to sustainable energy services in Southern Africa – while boosting jobs, skills and economic development.
Southern Africa simultaneously has a very high number of people without access to sustainable energy services and superb endowments of renewable energy resources, including solar, wind and hydro. Wind and solar seem set to anchor the global energy transition. South Africa, since 2012 has seen 22 operational windfarms, with more than 900 wind turbines spread out over three provinces, installed which together produce 2078 MW of electricity. Wind power now supplies 52% of the country’s renewable energy at a cost of 33% of the renewable energy bill. Many countries in the SADC region have similar potential and would benefit from an industry body to ensure that wind power is fully utilised.
Wind SADC will promote wind energy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) by acting as an umbrella body to its members, including industry associations from the wind sector in SADC countries. The wind industry can be a major player in powering Africa’s growth, creating new jobs and building local supply chains.
Broader socio-economic benefits can be expected: across renewable technologies in South Africa, local communities have already benefited from over R1-billion spent by IPPs on education such as upskilling of teachers, extra teachers and classrooms, and 600 bursaries to students from disadvantaged communities; the provision of health facilities and medical staff; social welfare such as feeding schemes; support to old age homes and early childhood development and the support of and establishment of more than 1000 small enterprises. The renewable energy sector is currently four times more employment-intensive than South Africa’s coal and nuclear industries.
The electricity grids in several SADC countries are modest and would not attract renewable energy players on their own. A regional approach however, would open the potential of the entire SADC region and help to foster information sharing, build visibility and coherence, and ensure that all the countries in the Southern African region – no matter the size of their wind energy industries – benefit from wind energy’s potential. This, while sharing the cost of an association across the region.
The association will work to improve the regulatory and policy frameworks in countries in the region, helping to enhance the business environment and develop capacity. Moreover, the new association acts as the central interlocutor to help tap into additional finance for energy and development in the region.
Speaking at the launch of the association, Atef Marzouk, the head of the African Union Commission’s energy division, emphasising the importance of regional collaboration on energy across the continent, said: “The launch of Wind SADC supports regional integration and economic cooperation – within the industry and beyond. It strengthens trade between member states, supporting our ambitious goal towards an African Continental Free Trade area as outlined in the AU Agenda 2063. Importantly, it also helps build energy capacity, unlock economic development and collaboration between countries in energy.”
Ntombi Ntuli, the CEO of SAWEA says her association will contribute existing capacity and experience. “Having an established office for more than 8 years and having been the custodian of explosive industry growth in South Africa, we will support Wind SADC with back office services and the lessons learnt over almost a decade. We look forward to contributing to regional growth,” she said.
Speaking of its role in supporting the association, Ben Backwell, the CEO of GWEC, said that Wind SADC fits extremely well with GWEC’s stated aim of accelerating the deployment of wind energy in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing private sector investment in the sector. “With our members’ support we have been working on this topic for some time and formed an Africa Task Force in early 2019 to find the best ways of doing exactly what Wind SADC will now tackle in the SADC. We fully support the effort and will bring our global experience, data and policy expertise to bear to facilitate success,” he said.
Kuda Ndhlaukula, the executive director of SACREEE, said “In driving towards universal access to sustainable energy as well as a secure energy system in a landscape of rapidly improving renewables energy technologies, we welcome this opportunity to join forces with experts in the international and local wind energy field.”
The association was launched with the support of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership, a high-level framework for strategic dialogue on energy between Africa and Europe. The launch of Wind SADC is an example of how pooling our resources and efforts enables us to better address challenges. By acting together, we are more than the sum of our parts. We intend to expand such interventions both into other technologies and other African regions, together with key regional and international partners.
Contact Johan van den Berg, Africa-EU Energy Partnership, firstname.lastname@example.org
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