South Africa: the energy that comes from sharing

Published on Monday, 10 October 2016

It is known as the “rainbow nation”, the only country in the world with three capitals, eleven official languages and a flag created twenty years ago to mirror a multifaceted and complex reality searching for the path of co-existence.  

In the social, economic and civil sphere, South Africa is an open-air laboratory. Enel landed in this country just over three years ago to collaborate in this worksite: together with renewables, we are bringing the energy that comes from sharing, to achieve sustainable development.

On October 10 in Nojoli, in the southern province of Eastern Cape, we showed an example of such commitment. In the area where we built the first of our South African wind farms we launched, together with the local population, educational, digitisation and employment supporting projects that show how we work and contribute to the country’s full development.

Building the common good together

In South Africa Enel Green Power has three solar PV plants online totalling an installed capacity exceeding 158 MW, the Nojoli wind farm and around 1 GW of ongoing projects, including 276 MW under construction at the Adams, Pulida and Gibson Bay worksites.

Enel has produced a considerable portion of the clean energy that the country needs to reduce its dependence from fossil fuels. But together with renewable technologies we have also brought to South Africa our Creating Shared Value model.

“The United Nations asked companies to help achieve the Sustainable Development Objectives. Enel responded to the appeal”

In South Africa, in the areas where we have put our renewable plants into service, we have set up projects aimed at giving access to energy and to digital technologies, at supporting employment and at combating social exclusion.

Overcoming the digital divide to support employment

The inhabitants of Bedford and Cookhouse, two towns near the Nojoli wind farm, now have two centres granting access to Internet and training on new digital technologies.

“The technological HUBs at Nojoli, which opened on October 10, were born from the exchanges with the committees formed by representatives of the local communities”

They expressed the need to provide stable access to Internet and training on new digital technologies to young people seeking employment.

An off-grid solar plant provides energy to the two prefabricated sections where servers, computers and printers have been installed, for everyone to use.

The Bedford and Cookhouse HUBs are managed by the community and the onsite training  allows the inhabitants of these two towns to maintain the two centres on their own.  

 

When light is a simple miracle

Together with the global initiative Liter of Light, we also launched in Nojoli a project for stable access to electricity, whose effectiveness we already tested in Kenya.

We will share expertise and techniques at a workshop with the local community, in order to immediately provide cutting-edge power to the village.

“The idea is simple and revolutionary: turn recycled plastic bottles and materials into solar energy lamps that can provide zero-emission lighting even in the most remote areas”

Little is needed to create a “Solar Bottle: a transparent plastic bottle, water, an electricity circuit made from recycled materials, a LED lamp, a solar panel and a rechargeable lithium battery. The workshop will teach local communities how to create light from recycled materials.

During the day, the Liter of Light lamp radiates solar light through water refraction. At night, the LED will stay turned on till dawn because of the stored energy.  

The strength of mothers who fight AIDS

Nelson Mandela used to say that “education is the strongest weapon you can use to change the world”. And precisely in Madiba’s country we are showing how true this statement is.

Together with the communities living near the Tom Burke solar plant we are carrying out a project in which energy is not produced by the sun, but by the power of sharing.

“HIV affects one out of six South Africans: this is the country with the highest percent of sero-positive people in the world ”

Together with the African NGO Mother2Mothers (M2M) we help local pregnant women affected by HIV.  Over two years we have met and supported 13,785 of them, relying on the power of education and their own experience.

The helping method revolves around the mentor mother, a woman who, supported by the M2M centres, has managed to give birth to her child free form the virus and makes her own experience available to the other mothers of the community. 

The M2M centres provide these mothers with prevention and medical care, assisting them and their newborn children.  Here the mothers discover the powerful secret of sharing, where the common and individual good originates from the commitment of all.

Enel’s initiatives in South Africa are a tangible step forward towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 8: quality of education and dignified employment.