SA’s energy crisis high on agenda of Premier’s international investment drive.
Following a fruitful week in the United Kingdom and Belgium, Premier Alan Winde and a Western Cape Government (WCG) delegation took their investment drive to France and Germany this week.
Throughout the trip the delegation has been exploring ways to make the province more energy resilient by talking with our European partners. With the country buckling under an unprecedented spate of mass power cuts – the longest stretch since load shedding had to be implemented more than 14 years ago – the WCG is looking for opportunities abroad to address the power crisis at home. The Premier said: “We must approach all solutions to this energy catastrophe with an open mind. South Africa’s energy production woes are never far from my mind and at almost all the discussions through this trip where energy-related matters were raised we were keen to listen to our European counterparts about how they are looking at alternative, sustainable ways to generate power. What is at the forefront of my mind is how do we as the Provincial Government enable an energy-resilient environment and what is the right energy mix for the province.”
South Africa is not alone confronting energy challenges. The UK and parts of Europe are, in varying degrees, also grappling with similar issues due to the Russia-Ukraine war, and in the longer-term we have to think about an energy mix that meets our demands and confronts the need to also address the growing and worrying climate crisis.
An exciting new “energy market” in Europe is Green Hydrogen (GH2). The WCG delegation was hosted by Hydrogen Europe in Belgium. The province is well-positioned to produce GH2 for local offtake and export. The Western Cape is positioning itself as South Africa’s green economy hub. A number of companies working in the renewable energy space have chosen Cape Town as their home. Harnessing the potential of the likes of GH2 and solar energy as well as attracting more investment in this sector was a key message at discussions with Hydrogen Europe as well as representatives of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
Particular emphasis has also been placed on investing in and growing entrepreneurship. The delegation – which Includes Wesgro Chief Executive Wrenelle Stander – met with officials from BPI France, which is described as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs. The Premier said: “If we can attract increased foreign investment and entice more would-be entrepreneurs into the power production field, especially renewable energy, we can help resolve South Africa’s electricity shortfall and create more jobs in the process.”
In France, discussions around renewable energy were also held with:
• The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD);
• Proparco Groupe AFD
“In the province’s ongoing push for renewable energy, small and medium term businessowners will play an important role in making us less reliant on Eskom,” Premier Winde pointed out.
Commenting on the ongoing load shedding, he lamented: “I am gravely concerned generally at the situation, which is not improving. The damage rolling power cuts are doing to the provincial economy is considerable. That is why we have to intensify and expand our green energy drive by boosting our relations with European partners and finding the right energy mix for our province”
The Premier’s next stop was Bavaria, Germany. Last year, the WCG and the State of Bavaria initiated discussions with potential areas of collaboration, including a just energy transition and Green Hydrogen. “We had another opportunity to further cement and deepen relations between our regions on numerous issues of importance, among them finding mutual solutions to energy security,” said the Premier at a meeting with Bavarian State Minister for European and International Affairs, Melanie Huml.
Apart from the focus on energy, the delegation is ostensibly looking to build and bolster investment relations with key European markets, like France.
The Western Cape and France have enjoyed a healthy relationship for years. An agreement was signed in 2002 between the region of Bourgogne Franche Comte in particular and the Western Cape. Under the agreement the regions committed to co-operating in the areas of:
• Renewable energy
• Tourism and
“The existing partnership between our province and Bourgogne Franche Comte has been successful. Building on this relationship and sustaining ties is critical and mutually beneficial,” the Premier remarked after meeting with the Bourgogne Franche Comte Regional Council, the Regional development Agency and the area’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Premier Winde concluded: “Huge opportunities await the Western Cape following our trip.”
Source: Government of South Africa