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Africa’s renewable potential, Formula E pushing EVtechnologies and Eskom embracing emobility

Africa’s Green Economy Summit: Day 2 highlights

The attendees of the second day of the inaugural Africa’s Green Economy Summit heard that Africa’s renewable resource potential far exceeds the energy the continent requires, the role that Formula E is playing in pushing EV technologies and that Eskom is embracing emobility and deploying microgrids. The 2-day summit was part of the E-Fest Cape Town that will culminate in the Formula E 2023 Cape Town E-Prix race on Saturday, 25 February 2023. A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the AfDB (African Development Bank) estimates “Africa’s solar photovoltaic (PV) technical potential at 7,900 GW.” To put this into perspective, according to South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), South Africa will need 78 GW of energy capacity by 2030, meaning that the solar PV potential in Africa alone is 100 times more than what one of its most energy reliant countries require. This is on top of the vast potential for hydropower, estimated at 1 753 GW, and wind energy at 461 GW, not accounting for the geothermal and modern bioenergy potential. Western Cape’s strong showing As host province of the event this week, the Western Cape government had a strong presence at Africa’s Green Economy Summit, taking every opportunity to explain the steps that the local government was taking to alleviate the effects of the current electricity crisis on consumers and businesses as well as providing opportunities for investment in the local green economy. In a keynote address on Thursday morning, the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, MEC Mireille Wenger, said the Western Cape would be allocating R1.1 billion over the next three years to work towards increasing its energy resilience. She explained: “This funding will go to responding to the short-term impact of loadshedding; to secure diesel fuel; to buffer schools from loadshedding; to alleviate the impact on poorer households; and, critically for our SMMEs, so they can assess and implement alternative energy options.” MEC Wenger added: “As the Western Cape Government, we stand ready roll up our sleeves, to work and partner with the private sector, to remove obstacles that stand in the way, so that we can realise the full potential of the green economy to secure a future which is not only cleaner and greener but more just and that leaves no one behind.” Eskom going green During a week that has seen Eskom come under more criticism for continued loadshedding and the sudden departure of its CEO, the utility’s Group Executive for Distribution Division, Monde Bala, starting off his presentation by saying he was “not going to talk about loadshedding or André de Ruyter,” but instead explained the steps the organisation was taking towards a greener energy mix for South Africa. “We want to embrace emobility as the core to our road map going forward” he said. On Day 1 of the event, during the launch of Go Green Africa, a collaborative platform to accelerate Africa’s just energy transition, it was announced that Eskom was a founding partner, and that it was working with World Bank funding on one of Africa's largest battery energy storage projects. Bala said that Eskom had been at the forefront of emobility when it collaborated with Nissan on its Leaf EV back in 2013. “We are currently running a pilot to introduce EVs to the Eskom fleet,” he added. Said Bala, “we understand that our customer will become part of the value chain by becoming a producer.” He added that Eskom was also investing in rural micro grids, and that the deployment of some 100 containerised microgrid pilots for rural areas and informal settings had already started in December. “These solutions are both grid-tied and off-grid.”

“What happens after net zero?” “What happens after net zero? Nobody is talking about that,” was a question asked by Aradhna Pandarum, the CSIR’s Portfolio Manager: Just Energy Transition in her keynote in the opening session of Day 2. She stated that skills development is at the core of sustainability, but explained that the South African Just Energy Transition Plan had only a 1% commitment to skills development, from a pot of R1.5-trillion and queried whether this was realistic to assist in the sustainable development of people. She added, “if you look at our history, we’ve had the REIPPPP for over 10 years and if you speak to the people in the Northern Cape, we cannot implement our renewable projects ourselves due to a skills shortage.” She added that the CSIR has been instrumental in implementing some appropriate training courses at several TVET colleges. Pan-African opportunities Dr Amany Asfour, president of the Africa Business Council (AFC) based in Egypt, said they focus on driving pan-African results by bringing together private sector and policymakers to support intra-African trade, investment and pan-African enterprise. Asfour asked if the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is meant to be for everyone, what it was actually doing? “Among ourselves, we only trade 16%. This is not acceptable. The EU figure is 68%. We need to increase intra-African trade." She stressed that Africa would not progress if countries do not harness their resources locally. "There will be huge shift to EVs by 2030. Where are those batteries going to be manufactured?” In China, she replied, adding: “We have all the minerals in the world, but we are not the ones adding value to it.” She said one of the main objectives of the Africa Business Council was to see a “made in Africa” product. African manufacturing: last frontier “As an automotive manufacturer, we see Africa as the last frontier,” said Michael Whitfield, Managing Director of Nissan Africa during a discussion on green industrialisation on the continent. “How do we ensure that we create sustainable solutions for mobility in Africa when one considers that by 2025, we’ll have 1.5 billion people? And by 2030, we’ll have the largest working population, in the world, on the continent. Yet, we only produce 1.2% of global automotive production, when we have 17% of the population.” He said the challenge in the growth of the automotive market for Africa is to utilise opportunities such as the continental free trade agreement. “How do we ensure that to benefit from that growth, a large part of value chain comes out of Africa?” he asked. He said that there were some promising developments towards this already: “If we look at what is happening in some of the value chains today, with the DRC government saying: ‘We have all the minerals towards EVs, we are going to stop exporting the raw materials. We must manufacture, we must add value in the DRC’. Zimbabwe is doing the same. These are the important steps as Africans to stand together to see how we can create sustainable solutions to mobility.” Rian Coetzee of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd (IDC) agreed: “we need localised value addition and local component supporting industries, from pit to port.” He said the IDC focuses on integrated planning for a new ecosystem, investing in feasibility studies to enable investment in projects that create value. Coetzee continued: “We have managed to develop a strong industrial base off coal. We need to recalibrate our manufacturing sector and decarbonise and bring down the cost base of the manufacturing sector. Global value chains have changed, such as exporting raw resources. We need to have renewable energy production on the one end, and have real local demand stimulation.” He also stated the need for more crossborder special economic zone (SEZs). Formula E: Accelerating the transition The iconic Italian car manufacturer Maserati is returning to racing this coming Saturday in the Formula E in Cape Town, the first Italian team to join the international EV racing circuit. "Formula E for us is the future, it was a natural choice for us,” said Giovanni Sgro, the head of Maserati Corse, in a session with leading names in the Formula E competition, discussing how the EV technology helps to realise the net zero vision. Sgro added: “by 2025 our entire range will have an electric version of the cars, and by 2030, Maserati will only produce electric vehicles. And success goes beyond the podium, and our positioning statement is “Race beyond”. “When we started the Formula E 12 years ago, we had no technology,” Alberto Longo, Co-Founder and CCO of Formula E remembered. Longo was involved in the regular (combustion engine) Grand Prix prior to this venture but increasingly found that sponsors wanted to be involved in greener, more sustainable branding activities. He explained that during the first four years of the Formula E competition, every team needed two cars to finish a race because of the limited range of the batteries. “Now, step by step, the technology is helping us to have faster and sexier cars, and without the technology we would not be here. Twelve years ago, there were two barriers for EVs, price and range of battery. The cars and batteries are still more expensive but we are getting there.” “Pathologically optimistic that it will happen” During the closing session on Thursday, the South African-born World Bank sustainability expert, John Roome, currently the South Asia Regional Director of Sustainable Development for the organisation, summarised what he saw as the key narrative message that came out of the packed programme of the 2-day Africa’s Green Economy Summit: “It starts from the premise that the green growth development pathway is the growth path for the future in Africa, and it can simultaneously generate growth, reduce poverty, increase resilience and reduce emissions; and there are lots of good examples internationally and in Africa that we can build on.” “And we can scale up these practices and promising examples, it can have a huge opportunity for Africa. But it is not a simple path to move forward from small niche interesting examples, to the systemic level of change that will be needed in order to deliver on this agenda. So, bringing together communities of policy makers, investors, financiers, civil society, to help make this systemic change, is what the opportunity is and what we can focus on.” Roome added that he was “pathologically optimistic and hopeful that in fact it will be successful.”

“Connecting funds to projects”

“It has been a wonderful two days,” said David Ashdown, CEO of VUKA Group, who organised Africa’s Green Economy Summit in partnership with E-Movement and Bellcrescent Partners. “I'm blown away by the quality of feedback that I have had from project owners and funders and investors about the environment and the platform that we have created. There has been a lot of networking, discussions and project pitches, and, perhaps surprisingly so for a launch event, we have had the ability to connect funds to projects.”

He continued: “So, we are going on to bigger and better things. We are back next year, we will be aligned to the Formula E project and the E-Fest series again, there will be an electric vehicle road trip across the country next year, as well connecting to our consumer audience around the E Prix precinct in Green Point.”

With some 80 expert speakers in the jam-packed programme, Africa’s Green Economy Summit brought together financiers, project developers, and government representatives, highlighting investment prospects that exist across the continent in the fields of green hydrogen, EVs, energy storage, solar, hydro and wind energy, infrastructure development, urban sustainability as well as manufacturing.

—Issued by Africa’s Green Economy Summit.





Media: Annemarie Roodbol Cell: +27 82 562 7844

Email: VUKA Group Africa’s Green Economy Summit was organised in partnership with E-Movement and Bellcrescent Partners by VUKA Group, which has more than 20 years’ experience in serving the business community across Africa. Formerly known as Clarion Events Africa, a leading Cape Town-based and multi-award-winning organiser of exhibitions, conferences and digital events in the infrastructure, energy, mining, mobility, ecommerce and CX sectors, VUKA is an independent B-BBEE compliant company, adapted to the unique conditions of Africa. Other well-known events by VUKA Group include Enlit Africa, DRC Mining Week, Nigeria Mining Week, DRC-Africa Battery Metals Forum, Smarter Mobility Africa, ECOM and CEM Africa.

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