South Africa: Committee Welcomes Alternative Energy Initiatives

Last week, the Portfolio Committee on Energy went on a two-day oversight visit to the iShack Project at Enkanini informal settlements in Stellenbosch and the Sustainability Institute which is part of the University Stellenbosch.
On the last day of the oversight visit the Committee conducted a study tour to industrial sites of liquid petroleum gas. The last project that the Committee visited was SABMiller waste-to-energy project in Newlands. The Committee welcomed the solar and sanitation initiatives introduced by the Sustainability Institute to assist the residents of Enkanini.
Chairperson for the Committee, Mr Sisa Njikelana, said the solar electricity programme and sanitation project (which has a waste management component) had compelled Stellenbosch Municipality and the local municipality to respond to the initiative positively. “What remains a challenge is whether the Stellenbosch fully agrees to the programme, considering the challenges of illegal settlement that the community faces,” said Mr Njikelana.
During engagement with the community members and project coordinators, members of the Committee said the solar power project had unique developmental features such as the enterprise aspect which has resulted in job creation for residents of Enkanini, said Mr Njikelana: “This has a potential to reverse energy poverty, by integrating research and local efforts to improve the quality of life.”
The MPs found it interesting that the project encouraged government to work with the private sector. The Committee also welcomed and congratulated the Sustainability Institute for the skills and empowerment component of the project.
Another aspect that the MPs were exposed to at Enkanini was the sanitation project which uses a bio-digester which provides production of additional electricity. The introduction of an additional toilet linked to the bio-digester will close the gaps on government toilets backlog and improve facilities that are provided by the municipalities.
One of the biggest advantages of improved sanitation is the health benefit for the residents, “Sanitation with future waste management project presents an improved health in future,” said Mr Njikelana. He added: “The community presents a real Vukuzenzele (do it yourself) concept.”
While visiting the Programme at Klapmuts and Nuwe Begin, the Committee expressed concern about the absence of solar water geysers in the community. However, the MPs welcomed the rollout of electricity.