Africa, the shared value of renewables


The creation of shared value is neither an instrument for social compensation nor a philanthropic intervention but rather an innovative business model: companies remain competitive but link economic results to the success of the communities in which they operate.

This approach can drive sustainable growth in Africa and is assuming an increasing strategic importance in the continent. This is the focus of the first Africa Shared Value Summit, which was held from 24 to 26 May in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Enel was among the sponsors of the event through Enel Green Power, the Group’s renewables division, which for many years has been incorporating Created Shared Value (CSV) in its business model and including in the planning of each new renewable plant, important input from relationships with those in the territories in question and listening to and understanding their needs, training members of the community with new skills and promoting development.

During the summit Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of Sustainability Projects & Practice Sharing at Enel, described her experiences in an interview on the subject of “The growth of renewables and social equality.”

Renewable energies,” explained Papetti, “are fundamental for the energy future of Africa, where today over 600 million people still have no access to energy. Renewable plants are more decentralized, have shorter construction times, are easier to install and can provide a key boost to growth, creating jobs and encouraging inclusive social and economic development.”

Renewables, therefore, serve as a vehicle for the creation of value for the territories but also as a tool for innovation. New technologies in the field of energy, such as mini-grids and off-grid systems, in addition to offering solutions for bringing electricity to rural or remote areas, can provide a boost to the many small firms starting up in Africa that need to keep the costs of their products low in order to supply low income clients. “These innovative and sustainable technologies,” added Papetti, “can guarantee solid progress and wealth. Renewables, battery systems, smart and digital technology and other types of innovation, represent a key factor for the creation of a new model of distribution networks, most of which are in Africa.”

Another key feature of the application of a CSV model, underlined the Enel manager, is that of working in partnership; cooperation with non-governmental organizations, social projects and international organizations can help the company to intercept innovative ideas and transform them into reality.

With this approach Enel has been creating numerous projects in diverse African countries, creating employment opportunities for young people and adults, encouraging the education of the young generations and an overall improvement of the living conditions of the community.