Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency to boost regional competition
By Nasi Hako
The Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency has officially been launched by PV Mkhatshwa, the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism in Mpumalanga, at a gala dinner hosted during the Mpumalanga Energy Summit on 24 May 2022.
The Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency is a not-for-profit organisation registered in South Africa. The Cluster uses the triple helix cluster model with representation from Government, Industry and Academia as part of its design setup.
“Mpumalanga has the potential to be a world-leading region in creating decent, green jobs by creating the enabling environment for new investments in low carbon growth. The Mpumalanga Cluster Agency works at the interface between business, government, and academia in order to identify and remove barriers to an economically viable green economy catalysing their uptake to enable the region and its citizens to prosper,” said Dr Thembakazi Mali, Sasol Senior Vice President for Research and Technology, and the Mpumalanga Green Cluster Board Chairperson.
The newly established Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency has published a series of market intelligence opportunity briefs outlining current opportunities for investors, aligned to supporting the growth of a green economy for the Province. The Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency’s primary focus is on unlocking and unblocking economic opportunities in the green economy, with the aim of making a contribution to regional economic diversification and job creation efforts. This also focuses on carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and clean aviation fuel.
“Mpumalanga is the energy centre of South Africa and has been for 100 years. Along with an incredible inheritance of mineral resources, Mpumalanga also has extremely rich solar and wind resources. As technology has moved, it is now becoming possible to convert these wind and solar resources into energy and value for the region,” said MEC Mkhatshwa.
“Clusters like the Mpumalanga Green Cluster are used to try and boost regional and local economic competitiveness. Such competitiveness will help companies in Mpumalanga export more, find global partners and apply the solutions developed here in Mpumalanga on a global scale. These sorts of structures and partnerships are a way to try and ensure the best aspects of Government, Business and Academia can be applied toward development that unlocks jobs and investment,” he added.
The cluster is already working to build the foundation for an ecosystem of competitiveness in Water, Energy, Sustainable Agriculture (Climate Smart) and the Circular Economy. The published opportunity briefs (for water, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture) provide an overview of the market within each sector, including key developments and achievements, the key players, legislation and regulation, market opportunities and challenges, and funding opportunities.
“We work both at the micro and macro level supporting green-tech SMMEs to build their businesses, enabling bigger businesses to improve their environmental footprint, and assisting the provincial government to create the right environment for a more resilient green economy. Ultimately, we want to help facilitate more investment and stimulate job creation into Mpumalanga’s green economy,” said Mr Nkosinathi Nkonyane, interim Cluster Executive Official (CEO).
“The market opportunity briefs are part of a series of first-of-its-kind reports that highlight green economy investment opportunities in the green economy in Mpumalanga. It is written for investors who want to understand the opportunities for investment and job creation in green economy sectors in the province,” he added.
Collaboration through clustering on a local scale to build competitiveness on a global scale will support the growth of the green economy in Mpumalanga and determine the green cluster in Mpumalanga’s success. The Cluster is also part of the International Cleantech Network, and this was highlighted as an opportunity for green businesses in Mpumalanga to benefit from a global network of more than 15,000 international green businesses.
In the spirit of collaboration, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH partnered with public benefit organisation GreenCape in collaboration with the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism to set up and capacitate the Mpumalanga Green Cluster Agency, and support initiatives in core green economy sectors to begin building an ecosystem of competitiveness. The GIZ support for this project is provided jointly by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
“The Mpumalanga Green Economy Cluster Agency is setting the right course for the structural change ahead and the Just Transition. It will help to establish the Province as a catalyst hub for green economy businesses that will create jobs and provide alternative development opportunities for local communities,” said Martin Weiss, Country Director, GIZ South Africa.
The UK PACT has also contributed to work that links the opportunities in the green economy in Mpumalanga with the emerging industrialisation opportunities being explored in the drafting of the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan.
Antony Phillipson, British High Commissioner to South Africa, said: “As part of supporting a just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy, it is vital to support projects creating jobs and opportunities in the new, green economy, especially in areas most dependent on coal-based generation.”
The Mpumalanga Green Cluster agency has officially constituted its board of directors. Dr Thembakazi Mali (Board Chairperson), Dr Bongiwe Mcata and Mr Nathaniel Sebitso will serve on the board of directors, with Mr Nkosinathi Nkonyane serving as the interim executive.