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  • Africa's Green Economy Summit

Exclusive Interview: The Western Cape Government's commitment to developing a green economy

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

WESTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT INTERVIEW: “Our dedicated green energy team is doing pioneering work through our Municipal Energy Resilience initiative to help municipalities across the province”


Exclusive interview with MEC Mireille Wenger, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, South Africa, who will deliver the closing keynote address of Africa’s Green Economy Summit on 23 February 2023 in Cape Town.


Tell us more about the Western Cape Government's commitment to developing a green economy in the province? What specific incentives are in place? What kind of projects are you targeting? The Western Cape is proudly positioned as one of Africa’s top ‘green economy’ investment destinations and we are on a drive to increase energy resilience because we must mitigate the effects of rolling blackouts we experience here in South Africa, or loadshedding as we call it, which results in significant economic damage, and also because of the immense potential the renewable energy sector has to attract investment, grow our regional economy and create jobs.


We have worked hard to cultivate a strong green economy ecosystem by prioritising green economy investments, because we understand that by investing in the green economy, we are investing in our future, precisely because the future is green.


Our dedicated green energy team is doing pioneering work through our Municipal Energy Resilience initiative to help municipalities across the province to develop, support and capacitate renewable energy projects, as well as support municipalities, businesses, and households to generate, procure and sell electricity.

We are focussed on supporting the uptake in small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) to allow households and the private sector feedback into the grid.


We are also working on enabling wheeling, or moving energy generated in one area to be traded across the grid to a consumer in another area, because we believe this will unlock significant private sector demand from independent power producers.


And, as the majority shareholder in the Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technology, our Greentech, export-orientated manufacturing hub, we see great potential for manufacturing opportunities which will further entrench our reputation as Africa’s Green Economy capital.


This will attract investment that leads to increased exports and the local production of green technologies, which will enable the green economy and contribute to our resilience in the Western Cape.


Which projects or future developments in the green economy space are you particularly excited about? I think any investment in the green economy is exciting as each moves us closer to becoming more energy resilient.


Recent amendments to national regulations have paved the way for IPPs to play a much greater role in the generation of power. Moving to take full advantage of these amendments, The City of Cape Town is steaming ahead in the procurement of power from IPPs, paying cash to small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) customers for excess energy, as well as allowing these customers to sell more electricity to the City than they use.


We are particularly excited about the potential of green hydrogen as an emerging decarbonisation solution, as the world moves to ensure its energy security, while cutting its carbon emissions.


South Africa generally, and the Western Cape and Northern Cape specifically, have been identified as potential green hydrogen hubs. FreePort Saldanha is further recognised as having immense green hydrogen potential. This is why our Premier, Alan Winde, recently signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a green hydrogen (GH2) hub and corridor with the Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul.


By working together, the Western Cape and Northern Cape are perfectly positioned to explore the potential of green hydrogen and to increase demand through production, bulk exports, and by attracting foreign direct investment which will contribute to economic growth and job creation in the context of ensuring a ‘just energy transition’.


What in your view are the biggest challenges in developing green energy projects on the continent? I think one of the biggest challenges faced is the need to cut red-tape related to bringing more IPPs online. It is critical that we all work together, with all levels of government and the private sector to create an enabling policy environment designed to help IPPs succeed, and this includes incentivising the adoption of renewable energy to ensure a smooth and just transition.


Another challenge we face, collectively, is to ensure that our transition to green energy does not leave anyone behind, and so, as we shift from carbon-intensive methods we must place a focus on upskilling people to participate in renewable energy production.


And the opportunities? The opportunities are truly endless, and the Western Cape, South Africa and indeed, the continent is blessed with the right conditions for all manner of renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydro and green hydrogen-based energy solutions.


Here in the Western Cape, we are working hard to take advantage of the opportunities we have, especially on the municipal procurement side and by encouraging and upscaling SSEG.


I feel strongly that our success will come from collaborating and partnering across South African and Africa to unlock the full potential of the green economy, attracting high-levels of investment that will contribute to economic growth, and jobs creation, ultimately towards a greener and more just future for Africa and her people.


You will address Africa's Green Economy Summit in Feb 2023, what are you most looking forward to? What will be your message at the event?

I am very much looking forward to addressing the inaugural Africa’s Green Energy Summit in February next year.


We face a collective challenge, one that can only be solved through collaboration and partnership. This summit is the perfect opportunity to discuss, debate and set the agenda for how we are going to work together and act to ensure a brighter future.


And ultimately, this summit and the deals that will flow from it, is a testament to the power of collaboration and the power of partnership between all levels of government, academia and the private sector that will gather in Cape Town in February 2023.


I certainly look forward to engaging with stakeholders on their vision for a greener cleaner and brighter future and to sharing with attendees our own plans and progress made in the green economy here in the Western Cape.


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