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Mpumalanga Premier: Just energy transition to be inclusive

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Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane

As South Africa works towards transitioning towards green energy sources, the Mpumalanga provincial government has assured citizens that plans towards the Just Energy Transition will leave no one behind.

Home to about 80% of the power stations, the Mpumalanga government said it is exploring plans to diversify the local economies to reduce dependency on coal.

Delivering the State of the Province Address on Friday, Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane, said the provincial government is working with the Presidential Climate Commission, the Climate Investment Fund and the World Bank to explore plans on re-skilling and upskilling the most vulnerable in the labour force and supporting small businesses and co-operatives in local communities.

Through the Political Declaration issued in November 2021 to establish this partnership, the United Kingdom – together with the European Union, France, Germany, and the United States – undertook to mobilise an initial amount of $8.5 billion over the next three to five years to support the achievement of South Africa’s ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

The NDC is a climate action plan aimed at cutting emissions and adapting to climate impacts.

“Those who work in these coal mines, those who work in these power stations, those who provide goods and services to these coal mines and power stations, those who depend on the workers and service providers to these mines … those are our people, and those are the people we are most concerned about.

“They should not be left behind. The transition will not be just if it fails to ensure that these constituencies of ours are not left behind,” the Premier said.

Mtshweni-Tsipane said old mines should be rehabilitated, and in the process the vast tracts of land be gainfully utilised in the new industries that conform with the Just Transition principles – such as manufacturing, agriculture and assembly of solar voltaic panels, wind turbines, batteries and others.

“We would also like to see our people participate and derive benefit from small scale, surface mining and other beneficiation opportunities,” the Premier said.

Empowering youth owned businesses

Through the Youth Development Fund, the province has in the current financial year approved 36 companies for funding, with a total amount of R92.3 million disbursed thus far.

The ownership of these companies comprises 60 males, 45 females and five youth with disabilities.

“These youth-owned enterprises are within sectors that are inclusive of mining, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and logistics. Beneficiaries of the fund are spread all over the province, with the effect that every single one of the 17 local municipalities is home to at least one beneficiary,” the Premier said.

Since its inception, the project has empowered 97 youth-owned businesses across the province and funding to the tune of R140 million was allocated to them.

Recently the province advertised the 2023 Premier’s Youth Development Fund, with the intention to increase the participation of youth with disabilities and youth in rural areas.

The call for applications will close on 17 March 2023.

“We intend to set aside at least 30% of funding for applications coming from the designated applicants, particularly people with disabilities from the rural areas.

“Apart from funding their enterprises, we also provide pre- and post-investment support.

“Through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), we continue to create the much-needed work and training opportunities for the poor and unemployed. In the current financial year, EPWP has created 24 205 work opportunities through the use of labour-intensive methods.

“The majority of beneficiaries in this regard are youth, women and people with disabilities. Our Fortune 40 programme, which has been running for a period of more than five years, has reached maturity and is now producing young commercial farmers,” the Premier said.

SA needs R1.5 trillion for Just Energy Transition

SA needs R1.5 trillion for Just Energy Transition

The province expects to create at least 90 000 youth job opportunities within the next 15 months.

“These opportunities will stem from 21 empowerment programmes across sector departments in the Provincial Government.

“In an effort to increase skills to both employed and unemployed community members in the province, we have partnered with various Skills Education Training Authorities (SETA) in diverse trades, such as diesel mechanical engineering, construction, supply chain management, information and communications technology (ICT), Infrastructure, local government and hospitality,” she said.

Mtshweni-Tsipane reiterate the province’s commitment to use public procurement to promote economic participation in order to transform ownership of the means of production.

“In this regard, 30% of the provincial procurement spend will be set aside for enterprises owned by women, youth and people with disabilities,” she said. – SAnews

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