Economic Development Minister Ibrahim Patel says moving to cleaner energy sources will hold enormous opportunities for the country’s economy. He was speaking on the sidelines of a Green Economy Summit recently at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Patel said in order to address huge unemployment challenges in the country, South Africa had a responsibility to explore new innovative ways to grow the economy.
“Green Economy gives us an opportunity to achieve our economic development goals and it’s something we have to explore,” Patel said.
He said organisations like the Industrial Development Corporation were ready to finance entrepreneurs who are willing to embark on green economy industry.
The IDC has began to calculate the potential size of green economy and Patel said preliminary research covering areas such as solar bio-fuels shows that almost 300 000 jobs can be created by the industry in the next few years. The green economy sector has attracted more than $17 billion in China and more than 1.2 million people are currently employed in the sector. Germany has managed to create about 200 000 jobs using throughput technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Patel said South Africa will be learning from the countries where the move to green economy has led to massive job creation.
The country’s mining industry has also committed to achieving green economy objectives by promising to promote “responsible” mining that would not leave behind negative environmental impacts.
“I firmly believe that this new approach is a global imperative, not only for sustainable mining but also for sustainable development in general,” said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.
Shabangu said old mining technologies and outdated mindsets towards labour issues had created unnecessary and painful social consequences and environmental damages.
“To avoid these preventable outcomes, we have embarked upon a process of multi-stakeholder engagement involving all role players in our mining sector,” she said.