Renewable energy to boost the Eastern Cape economy

Renewable energy provides Eastern Cape business with a new growth opportunity in light of its potential to supply 60% of the province’s energy needs, Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Dedeat) Sakhumzi Somyo said.

The World Bank has forecasted less than 2% economic growth for this year while the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) showed that business confidence index in the Eastern Cape has been declining since the second quarter of last year, Somyo said.

The province has been on a drive to diversify the economy over the past five years, after it became apparent during the global economic crisis that dependence on the automotive sector and its exports made it vulnerable to pressures in the global economy.

Speaking at the Border-Kei Chamber of Business (BKCOB) annual general meeting, Somyo said while the provincial economy is facing stagnant growth as the national economy flounders, there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel as the province has achieved growth in the renewable energy sector.

“The Eastern Cape has achieved 1 073 MW of wind and solar farms in the first three rounds of Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (Reippp). To put this into perspective: where wind is blowing and sun is shining, these RE facilities could provide 60% of Eastern Cape’s electricity demands while contributing to energy security. Wind and solar farms represent a significant boost to the provincial economy.”

Somyo said Reippp’s investment value was well over R21.5-billion of which R7-billion was allocated to local content. “Local content targets represent opportunities for the province to harness the value chain. Some key achievements include photovoltaic panel manufacturing in the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), DCD wind tower manufacturers in Coega IDZ.”


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