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Cape Town pro-active in preparing for energy independence and green economy

Cape Town’s Executive Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says the city is determined to beat loadshedding and has made some remarkable progress. Delivering the keynote address on Day 2 of Africa’s Green Economy Summit in the Mother City, the mayor explained: “We are not going to wait for any government-led entity. We are going to protect our city from at least four stages of loadshedding by 2026 and ultimately end it altogether.”

He explained: “Businesses in the city have been able to get cash for their power since June of last year, and we have just opened applications to residential users too. Already we’re seeing a very encouraging take-up.

“In the 2022/2023 financial year, we paid out more than R10.5 million to Capetonians for their power, and in this current financial year we’ve already paid over R8.8 million.

“That’s a total of R19.4 million just on the feed-in tariff alone, excluding a 25c per kilowatt-hour incentive which the city has added to encourage participation. At more than 25 million kilowatt-hours to date, this incentive adds a further R6.4 million to the amount we’ve paid out.”

Our sense of purpose
The city recently crossed the 5-million population mark which makes it the most populous metro in South Africa.

Says Hill-Lewis: “Our higher purpose is not just to run a cool city. Our sense of purpose is to get people out of poverty over time. Only then will people thrive.”

The mayor had some more good progress to report. According to Statistics South Africa, 43,000 new jobs were created in the city in the last quarter of 2023, employment was up 7.4% year-on-year and the unemployment rate is now 15% below the national average. “Still far too high of course,” said Hill-Lewis, “but on the right track, and downwards, not upwards.”

In the fireside chat that followed focusing on urban transformation and forging new partnerships, the Cape Town’s Executive Mayor explained some of the infrastructure that is being planned for prepare the city for a greener future.

“The city is rolling out the biggest infrastructure project in the whole of the Western Cape province. It is an R8.5-billion expansion of our MyCiti bus system to the metro’s southeast, which is Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain, which fundamentally has a whole range of economic benefits, linking people to job opportunities and giving people a more reliable form of public transport.

“It will have its own dedicated lanes, so that it is quick and efficient. And what will be really cool about it is that all the buses on that route will be ebuses.”

Global and investor partnerships
Todd Gartner, Director: Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure , World Resources Institute (WRI) noted that Cape Town was “a bit of an outlier, financially speaking, compared to the rest of Africa.

“To meet the ambitions of a thriving and resilient economy across Africa is going to take partnerships; and those are not just global partnerships and partnerships with investors, it is about inclusive opportunities with local communities and local cities.

“How do we start to make local communities part of the planning process of what our future cities will look like? How do we think about the role of nature as a complement to built infrastructure investments that you have already begun to put forward? That can only happen if we think about the most vulnerable communities and how they can really be part of the solutions that we are trying to achieve.

Partnering for Climate
Gartner added: “The Government of Canada is really leading the way, along with many other donors across sub-Saharan Africa, with Partnering for Climate, thinking around how we can utilise nature-based solutions. How can we have more urban trees and green spaces in our cities? How we can restore water sheds and wetlands to deal with flooding and urban heat? How do we tap into women-led businesses to really enhance partnerships and enhance the outcomes we are seeking?”

Partnering for Climate funds projects that support climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world.

Women in Green Economy
Starting off the second day of the summit, was an invitation-only Women in Green Economy breakfast, focusing on redefining the mould and recreating a working environment that benefit and uplift women. The keynote speaker was Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, the Africa Lead, Comprehensive Action for Climate Change Initiative (CACCI), Abt Associates, Australia.

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