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South African Government to Allow Municipalities to Source Their Own Power

According to the Government Gazette, South Africa will allow municipalities to source their own power rather than buying electricity solely from the state-owned utility, potentially easing a dispute with its second-biggest city, Cape Town.

Earlier this year, a judge ordered further negotiations between the City of Cape Town and the energy ministry after the municipality sued the government because it wasn’t allowed to proceed with its own energy procurement plans. Under the planned rules, the local authority would still need government permission to do so, which it objects to.

In addition to wanting to generate more power from renewable resources, South African cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, the adjacent industrial hub of Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, which includes the capital, Pretoria, have been subjected to regular power cuts because state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. cannot meet demand and distribution infrastructure is dilapidated.

Cape Town has outlined plans to source electricity from solar plants and waste-to-power projects at its landfill sites. Eskom produces most of its power from coal.

Leila Mahomed-Weideman, director of sustainable energy markets for the City of Cape Town, said she couldn’t immediately comment.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relocation Africa’s Monthly Social Responsibility Project, Month 2: Neighborhood Litter Collection

As part of our constant drive to give back to our community, our team has endeavored to join together to participate in a monthly community-focused CSR initiative. The team comes together each month to participate in an activity aimed at uplifting the community around our head office in Cape Town, after which ideas are put forward for the following month’s initiative.

In this way, as South Africans, we are giving back not only on Mandela Day, but throughout the year, as the need doesn’t end after the holiday.

Naturally, we take all necessary COVID-19-related precautions when participating in the activities, so as to ensure the health and safety of our team members and those we are interacting with outside our office.

For our second month, in October 2020, we came together to pick up litter in the neighborhood in which our head office is located (Kenilworth, Cape Town), with the theme of ‘A Healthier City’. We invited our neighbors to join us, and the team from Vulcan Integrated Solutions joined us on the collection walk. We split up into 3 teams, each walking different routes, to pick up any litter we found in the roads surrounding our offices.

Gallery

We hope this inspires our readers and other companies to start similar initiatives, as if we all work together, we can greatly improve the quality of life of those in need around us.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Opinion: African Grid Operators That Don’t Open Up to Solar Risk Being Left Behind

African grid operators that don’t put solar power onto their systems risk being bypassed as prices for solar production and storage continue to fall, John van Zuylen, CEO of the Africa Solar Industry Association, tells The Africa Report.
 
There are already many places where solar energy is the cheapest option says Van Zuylen, who is based in Kigali. That means the prospect of “a significant uptake of solar in the African energy mix, grid-connected but probably mostly off-grid. By rejecting solar, the national utilities may create themselves a new problem: losing their reliable customers.” Less than 1% of the world’s solar capacity is in Africa.
 
According to the Institut Montaigne in Paris, sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s only region where demographic growth since 2000 has been faster than the speed at which populations are being given access to electricity.
  • Only around 10 solar power plants of more than 5MW have been connected to the grid in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, the Institut says.
  • Africa has been largely absent from the global solar power plant deployment, which constitutes a “collective failure”, the Institut argues.
  • It’s only going to get worse if nothing is done: in 2040, almost 95% of the world’s population without access to electricity will be in sub-Saharan Africa, the Institut says.
Many African national grids are in poor condition and cannot absorb more than 20-30MW in a single location, limiting opportunities, Van Zuylen says.
  • For grids that don’t have these technical constraints, questions about risk-sharing, government guarantees and bankable off-take agreements have significantly limited the number of projects coming to fruition, he adds.
  • Meanwhile, solar home systems and mini-grids still require heavy subsidies to provide electricity at affordable prices for rural populations, which are often the ones with the lowest available income.

Urban subsidies

National grids are best placed to do something about it. According to a global outlook for solar power to 2024 published by SolarPower Europe in June, African utilities with access to an urban customer base may be able to finance connections for poorer rural households by subsidising them with revenue collected in cities.
  • Projects situated near these urban centres are more bankable due to economies of scale, the possibility of future capacity expansions and a lower risk of under-utilisation, SolarPower Europe says.
Some countries are becoming supportive of solar. Van Zuylen points to the example of Senegal, which this month removed VAT on all solar products, including water pumping systems.
  • The decision is part of a strategy that seeks to achieve universal access to electricity in Senegal by 2025.
  • Institut Montaigne says that of the 10 plants connected to sub-Saharan grids, four are in Senegal.
The best thing to do for grid operators is to “guide and accompany a smooth integration of solar in their grids,” Van Zuylen says. “If they do not do so, it could very well be that more and more customers will gradually disconnect from the grid completely as solar plus storage is not only reliable but also increasingly cost-competitive.”

The Bottom Line

Foot-dragging national grids risk being left behind as falling prices for solar and storage equipment have the potential to be a game-changer.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relocation Africa’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Intro to CSR

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility, also known as Corporate Sustainability, and Corporate Conscience, is a familiar one these days. However, for those who aren’t aware, CSR is an initiative that a firm volunteers to take, aimed at furthering social good.

These actions go beyond mandatory things such as following the rule of law, and seeking a profit. They are guided by a company’s ethical policies, and are there solely to benefit stakeholders and the environment, outside of the standard reasons for a business’ existence.

At Relocation Africa, we have been expanding our CSR initiatives over the 26 years we have conducted business across Africa.

GOLD Charity

For the past 5 years, we have supported a local charity called Generation of Leaders Discovered (or GOLD). GOLD believes that Africa’s greatest resource is its youth. The charity exists to support youth education, through peer education programs, and assist in creating the leaders of tomorrow.

One of the Directors at Relocation Africa has sat on the board of GOLD for numerous years, providing consistent knowledge and insight to support their growth strategy. In this way, supporting youth empowerment has become a cornerstone of our CSR focus. We are currently in the process of developing new ways to help GOLD youth, such as hosting them at our head office for mock interviews, to help in preparing them for entering the working world.

Recycling

We maintain a continuous drive to recycle at our head office in Cape Town. This includes motivating team members to separate their waste and recycle whenever possible, as well as having dedicated recycling bins and signs around the office. We take our recycling to Oasis Recycling Depot, close to the office. The Oasis Association, which runs the depot, uses its income to support those in South Africa with mental disabilities. They do so through support workshops, day centers, and group homes. We are proud to be a part of this initiative to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, while also having a positive impact on reducing waste to protect our natural environment.

Water Saving

Throughout 2018, and to a lesser degree to this day, the City of Cape Town implemented strict water restriction policies for residents and businesses, due to one of the worst droughts the region has ever experienced. With far lower than average annual rainfall, our dams almost emptied, and everyone had to come together to avoid what was eventually called “Day Zero”, where we would run out of water and have to queue for rations of trucked in water supplies. Fortunately, this did not happen, and we’re enjoying normal winter rain at present, however we came close.

And coming that close reinforced our water saving policies at Relocation Africa. We have signs around the office, in kitchens and bathrooms, encouraging our team to use water sparingly. We also set up a clever rainwater storage and pump system, which, with the turn of a lever, can supplement our draw from City water.

In our yard, we have what’s commonly called a Jojo – a large storage tank that collects rainwater from the guttering. It then stores the water, and we can pump it up to our restrooms in the office, thereby using less of the City’s water, which is often constrained. Our plants outside are also watered using a conservative drip irrigation system, rather than with high pressure hoses. Considering how much of an impact global warming is having on the climate, we consider this supplementation an essential part of helping the environment and future generations.

Solar Electricity

Another area of infrastructure constraint in South Africa is energy supply. Most of our residential and commercial electricity comes from our national utility company, Eskom. Eskom is responsible for generation and supply, and has, for many years, been unable to properly keep up with demand, and maintain a profit.

This has unfortunately resulted in what we know as load-shedding, across the country, every few years. Neighborhoods are divided up into energy sectors, and electricity supply is shut off on rotation for a few hours, so that a total blackout doesn’t occur. This happened most recently just a few months ago, and we are not beyond it occurring again soon.

To protect our office, reduce strain on the national electricity grid, and give back to the environment, we have installed a sophisticated solar power generation system at our head office. Since early 2014, our office has featured 25 photovoltaic panels on its roof, positioned to harness the most sunlight possible during daylight hours. These panels are connected to a smart charge controller, and the power is distributed throughout our building. Electricity usage can be monitored via a mobile app, which provides us with usage history, so that we can track our conservation efforts.

In addition to this, we also have battery units that keep the solar system running. In the event of a power outage, the batteries will keep our essential systems running. To date, we have converted 40.7 MWh of solar energy into usable electricity. Making use of clean energy is part of the environmental section of our overall CSR initiative.

Paperless Office

Another area where we try to reduce our impact on the environment is through the goal of a paperless office, which we are gradually working towards. We encourage team members to avoid printing whenever possible, rather making use of digital minutes and notes, and saving and sharing documents in the cloud. As part of this, we have begun using Google Drive and Dropbox Paper. The physical paper that we do end up using naturally feeds into our recycling drive.

Veg Garden

We are lucky enough to have a team member who is responsible for maintenance, who has very green fingers. As a result, we have a rooftop vegetable garden that puts out organic, seasonal produce for our team to use if they wish. This not only results in our planting more flora, but also reduces our buying packaged goods at the store.

Litter Cleanup

We recently decided to start a monthly litter pick up drive, whereby we plan to get any interested team members together and go for a walk around our area to collect any litter lying around. By doing this consistently, we will be doing our part to keep Cape Town neighborhoods clean, and perhaps if we’re noticed, others will join in. We also encourage our team members to take their families out over the weekend to pick up some litter, as a bonding activity, and to help the environment. The Municipality does a good job of keeping our streets clean, but they can only cover a certain area every so often, and there’s nothing quite like a bit of community engagement to help out and save costs.

Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela International Day is an annual celebration of the legacy of Madiba, with events taking place in South Africa and elsewhere. Each year, on the day, South Africans are encouraged to give back to their community through 67 minutes of community service, representing the 67 years former President Mandela fought for social justice.

Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to make an impact. At Relocation Africa, we make sure to take part in this important form of civic engagement every year. In years past, we have handed out food to the homeless in our area, as well as partnered with local charities. In 2019, we decided to split into two teams, and do two different things.

We made soup and handed it out with rolls to those in need in the area around our office, which was especially well received considering the rain on the day. We also went out in teams to pick up litter in the area. We plan to continue this form of annual community service going forward, and develop new ideas to help out as a group.

Future Plans

We recently decided that our next step to grow our CSR initiative will be to support U-turn, an organization registered with the UK Stewardship and American Fund for Charities, to further help those in need in South Africa. We will be buying vouchers from U-turn and leaving them at our reception, for team members to take and hand out to the homeless. These vouchers can be taken to U-turn outlets around our city and exchanged for food or clothing, as per the individuals’ needs.

Overall

Whether it be water saving, clean power, sustainable food, going paperless, recycling, city cleanups, or supporting local charities, at Relocation Africa, we’re determined to do our part.

These initiatives come together to form our overall CSR strategy, which, as a whole, is aimed at operating sustainably, preserving our natural environment, and giving back to our local community whenever we can.

We hope that sharing this with you has taught you a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes at Relocation Africa, and perhaps even inspired you to take on some CSR initiatives of your own. Even if they’re small, collectively we can make a big impact.

Graebel Recognition

Recently, Graebel recognized all these efforts by giving us a Certificate of Appreciation as part of their 2019 Environmental Stewardship awards.

We aim to continue to make giving back to the community, and operating in a sustainable manner, focuses at our head office, and across Africa.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: RawFilm [1], [2].

September 21st is World Cleanup Day

September 21st is World Cleanup Day, and we encourage everyone to get involved however they can.

World Cleanup Day is an international effort to band together and clean up our earth, to do our part in preventing the growing climate crisis we find ourselves in.

World Cleanup Day on 15 September 2018 united 18 million people across 157 countries and territories, for the biggest waste collection day in human history.

This year, it aligns with the UN-sanctioned International Day of Peace, as well as falls around the time of two school strikes for climate. One is the September 20 Climate Strike, three days before a UN emergency climate summit being held in New York,and the other is with 350.org and Earth Strike next week, on the 27th.

To find out more about World Cleanup Day, click here, and to find out how to get involved, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].