Gautrain is safe and efficient

The South African green economy vision has identified nine green economy programmes, with sustainable transport infrastructure being one of them.

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Imvelisi Enviropreneurs Programme sets young entrepreneurs up for success in SA’s green economy

In 2020 the South African government published its Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The plan recognises green economy interventions as a critical factor in not only addressing the country’s persistent challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment but also in offering a sustainable solution to driving economic competitiveness.

Imvelisi, an impactful ideation and early-stage business development platform, is plugging the gap that exists in the country’s green economy by developing young eco-innovators and their ideas through an innovative Enviropreneurs Programme.

The programme is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and is in partnership with GreenMatterZA and the South African Young Water Professionals Network (YWP-ZA). It consists of two key components. The first is a training boot camp that fosters entrepreneurship and business success by giving 50 young and aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to explore their ideas and gain insight into starting a business in the water, biodiversity and environmental sectors.

The second component of the programme selects six participants who have shown unique potential during the boot camp, giving them access to mentorship and one-on-one support for 12 weeks.

The Imvelisi Enviropreneurs Programme has trained a total of 132 enviropreneurs to-date and recently concluded its fourth boot camp in November, the first one launched in 2015. This was just in time for the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week (16-22 November), which celebrated innovators who dream big and launch start-ups that bring ideas to life.

Imvelisi draws knowledge and expertise from industry mentors whose guidance helps entrepreneurs’ business ventures succeed.

“There are hundreds of business incubators, enterprise development and business mentorship programmes operating in South Africa, yet ideation phase enviropreneurs still struggle due to a lack of support in the early stages of the business development cycle,” says Janavi Da Silva, Director of Programmes at GreenMatter.

“Our Enviropreneurs Programme provides ideation training to young enviropreneurs, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and resources to assess market potential, structure a business and partnership proposal and test the viability of their ideas and concepts. We create opportunities for them to learn, adapt and network in the green sector.”

Imvelisi not only helps break down the barriers to entry but is also aware that countless entrepreneurs spend a significant amount of time and money trying to determine if there would be a potential market for their product or service offering. To simplify the process, Imvelisi provides detailed Market Intelligence Reports that include a wide range of business opportunities that currently exist in the green economy. The reports significantly cut down the cost of market entry.

The programme is constantly evolving to offer aspiring young environmental entrepreneurs the best business advice, technical insights relevant to their unique environmental discipline and mentorship to help develop their business plans. More recent developments include the introduction of guidebooks designed specifically for entrepreneurs looking to start invasive alien plant species removal and beneficiations businesses.

Partner and stakeholder investments have seen the programme digitise its bootcamps to offer virtual, extended month-long sessions, as opposed to its previous one-week bootcamp. Placing the entrepreneurs under pressure to pitch after four days. Entrepreneurs now have access to a more flexible Enviropreneur programme guided by industry experts who walk the journey with the attendees to ensure they develop their business plans more effectively and get even more knowledge and insights from the training sessions.

“We’ve seen a massive difference since the introduction of our virtual boot camp, where entrepreneurs are pitching much stronger business ideas to the team. This is a significant improvement compared to previous years and we owe it to the additional hands-on support from industry experts we’ve been able to bring on board. Going into the future, we plan on continuing to innovate so we can reach even more Enviropreneurs and expanding the impact we’ve been able to make so far, looking into the future for a greener economy on the African continent,” adds Da Silva.

“The Imvelisi Enviropreneurs programme is a necessary step for entrepreneurs looking to develop themselves professionally. We’re proud to be a part of such an impactful initiative, which forms a critical part of early-stage entrepreneurial development,” adds Lucky Litelu, Project Lead from South African Young Water Professionals.

“The programme enables entrepreneurs to turn their green business ideas from cerebral thoughts into tangible businesses and gives me confidence that the future of South Africa and the future of the African continent is in the right hands.” 

Visit Imvelisi.org to find out more about the Enviropreneurs Programme. 

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De Wildt Solar grows North West Province’s green power map

De Wildt Solar, situated within the Madibeng Local Municipality, close to the town of Brits, in the North West Province, has announced its Commercial Operations on 23 January 2021, having achieved Facility completion.

This 50MW PV project is the fourth utility-scale plant that has come online, in the North West, in under five months, helping to make this Province a serious player in the renewable energy sector. All four projects are 100% South African-owned and don’t only deliver much-needed power to the country’s national grid, but also provide benefits to the local rural communities through impactful economic development programmes.

“Resident of Brits, Mmakau, Mothotlung, Lethlabile, Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding areas within a 50km radius of the project will be the direct beneficiaries of the Economic Development projects over the next 20-year operations period.  These projects will include training and accelerator programmes, skills development training and other welfare initiatives,” Nomzamo Landingwe, Chief Community Operations Officer for De Wildt Solar.

One of De Wildt Solar’s Socio-Economic Development programmes included the installation of a waterless ablution facility, for the Rutanang HIV Care Centre.

Rutanang HIV Care Centre is situated in the area of Mmakau, close to De Wildt Solar.  This community health centre provides much needed support and services to hundreds of community members, including primary school children.

This NGO assists the community with HIV testing and counselling, education around chronic diseases and also assists the local clinic with handing out of Chronic Medication in the community. The waterless ablution facilities from Enviro Loo were installed to replace the use of old drop toilets, which are generally unhygienic and sometimes unsafe.

The focus of De Wildt Solar’s Economic Development programme is to empower and strengthen local beneficiary communities with a focus on education, as well as youth development, health, food security and welfare. The programmes have been chosen following research and engagement to ensure that they are well informed and will strengthen the beneficiary communities.

Additionally, a percentage of the revenue generated each year will be committed to implementing Enterprise Development initiatives. The first beneficiary, a brick-making facility called Moagi Women Development Primary Cooperative, in the Mmakau community, received support during the project’s construction phase.

A shaded working area was constructed for the co-op, to create a resting space for the women who work in the tough outdoor weather conditions.  This shaded working area has also created a space for the co-op workers to set-up their machinery, which was donated by other donors.

The overarching focus of the programme is on small and micro enterprises, designed to enhance growth. To deliver on this objective, the establishment of a local resource centre, for use by local SMMEs and communities at large, will support this drive to aid development, whilst the provision of accredited skills training will be provided to start-up businesses.

The 50MW De Wildt Solar project comprises 169 140 solar modules that draw from the intense North West sun, producing enough power to satisfy the needs of around 84 000 average South African households. The solar plant is expected to feed 123 GWh per year of much-needed green electricity into the country’s national power grid, via Eskom’s Zolograph switching station. It is part of the government’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPPP), which launched a decade ago and has successfully procured over 6.4GW of independent clean power.

Around 400 people from the local beneficiary communities were directly employed on the project during construction. This is in addition to the employment created through the contracting out of various services. 

De Wildt Solar is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.

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Montauk Renewables lists on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

US-based renewable energy company, Montauk Renewables, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s (JSE) Main Board, making this the first company listing for 2021. This listing is a secondary listing for the company under the alternative fuels classification. Montauk Renewables is a new listing resulting from the unbundling of Montauk Holdings.

A leader in renewable energy development from biogas, Montauk Renewables has been specialising in the recovery and processing of methane gas sources for use as an alternative to fossil fuels for over 30 years. The organisation has extensive experience in the development, operation, and management of biogas fuelled renewable energy projects.


“As an organisation that is environmentally conscious, the JSE is pleased to welcome Montauk Renewables onto the Main Board. This listing is an opportunity for South African investors to invest in the green fuel
space, and help preserve our planet for future generations. We wish Montauk immense success in their growth journey as we all work together towards growing shared prosperity.”

Valdene Reddy, Director of Capital Markets at the JSE.

The JSE now has 337 companies listed with a market capitalisation of over R18.9 trillion.

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GBCSA and Zutari launch safe workplace guideline

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and Zutari (formerly known as Aurecon) has launched a “safe return to the workplace” guideline to help facilitate a responsible reopening of offices in South Africa. 

“What is emerging is a realisation that lockdown cannot be a long-term strategy against Covid-19 and that the ‘new normal’ for workplaces is evolving because of the need for human interaction,” says Georgina Smit, GBCSA’s Head of Technical. “Although a ‘new normal’ is emerging in office working, it will need to respond not only to a changed world of work but will have to manage health-related risks as well,” she adds.   

The guideline, developed by GBCSA and Zutari, is a technical guide for existing buildings that identifies best practice recommendations for a healthy and safe return. The guide is available for free and aimed at building owners, facilities managers, office managers, and tenants.

“Commercial buildings are not typically designed to standards aimed at minimising the spread of infectious disease to the extent of hospitals that are built for this purpose. However, there are various measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission,”

Martin Smith, Technical Director, Zutari

The framework and guideline consist of five categories and 45 initiatives and has been put together to understand the range of options that should be considered when implementing the return to the workplace, with safety as the key priority. It provides an overview that identifies infection control strategies at various levels of decision-making and responsibility.

Smit explains that “the guidelines are set up in a structure similar to the Green Star rating tools with various interventions grouped under a number of applicable categories. A short aim description and background are provided for each initiative. The guide puts forward a recommended best practice for each initiative. It is a user-friendly starting point for stakeholders to understand what needs to be considered for a safe workplace.”

The guide considers initiatives related to management, personal behaviour, indoor air quality, safe water systems, and design for safety. Each category has been collated around the point of control within the building in mind. For example, the Management Category highlights the need for mental health support services that encourage resiliency and ensures that discrimination does not occur.

Smit says that the first step for those interested in applying this to a building they work in is a healthy building assessment audit. “The purpose of this is to provide an understanding of the current status of the building and its related services and address the preparedness of management and staff to handle health-related risks. It serves as a gap analysis of your building’s status in relation to desired outcomes and requirements of this guide.”

Zutari’s Martin Smith emphasises that the role of air quality needs to be considered. “You really want to address building ventilation rates to ensure sufficient ventilation or outdoor air supply rates are provided to minimise a build-up of pathogens or contaminants suspended in the air. Good amounts of fresh air also contribute to occupant wellness, which could have translated into productivity benefits.”

When considering mitigation strategies for your building, it is important to understand how infections such as Covid-19 spread. The risk associated with the following four most common transmission routes should be addressed when using this guide: person to person via macro droplets; airborne transmission; fomite transmission and faecal-oral transmission. 

“Mitigating risks associated with each one of these transmission routes has a massive impact on the way a building and its occupants need to be managed to ensure everyone’s safety,” Smith added. 

It is the responsibility of organisations encouraging staff to return to work to ensure due processes and protocols are followed for the safety of employees. Companies need to be compliant with the SA Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) Regulations and Guidelines and this guideline provides free additional robust support for the South African commercial and retail sector, through the lens of green building priorities.

GBCSA and Zutari urged stakeholders to “use this opportunity to facilitate the shift to creating healthy spaces for people to work, collaborate and contribute to creating a better place for all of us.” 

DOWNLOAD: The Framework & Guideline for the Safe Return to the Workplace. The initiatives can be downloaded here

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VIDEO | Greta Thunberg

The disarming case to act right now on climate change

TEDxStockholm

In this passionate call to action, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why, in August 2018, she walked out of school and organized a strike to raise awareness of global warming, protesting outside the Swedish parliament and grabbing the world’s attention. “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg says. “All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxStockholm, an independent event. 

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Low hanging fruit can move SA circular economy efforts forward

Circular economy progress needs more collaboration, decentralised infrastructure.

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The profitable shift to green energy


Green energy can lead to profits, but only with the right incentives and balance of price, technologies, capital, and operations.

Global consumer goods companies following today’s energy trends are finding that greening their energy supplies with renewable energy initiatives is good—not only for the world but also for their profits.

Before his death last year, Ray Anderson was anointed by The New York Times as America’s greenest businessman. When Anderson, CEO of the Atlanta-based global carpet firm Interface, first decided to move manufacturing and operations toward full sustainability in the mid-1990s, he had trouble convincing his colleagues that such a move was in the company’s best interest. Barely a decade later, however, it was clear that Anderson was ahead of his time. By 2005, Interface was saving $400 million a year by reducing waste, decreasing absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 92 percent, cutting water use by 75 percent, and sending fewer materials to landfills. Profits doubled in the same time period. Anderson clearly understood the impact a green strategy could have on the bottom line.

Today, retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are following in Interface’s footsteps, strategically making their operations more environmentally sustainable. Wal-Mart, IKEA, Tesco, and Target have set sustainability goals at varying degrees and are pursuing ways to meet them (see figure 1). Major producers and suppliers have followed suit. Nestle, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever have all made public commitments and are developing energy programs to achieve their green goals.

Sustainability goals of consumer goods companies and retailers

Although corporate motives for going green are often similar, the approaches can be quite different. For example, Tesco is primarily carbon-focused and deals primarily with managing, reducing, and offsetting carbon or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The company, the world’s third-largest retailer, has pledged to halve emissions by 2020. Other companies are focusing on water, reducing freshwater use, or landfill diversion, such as Coca-Cola’s water-stewardship and sustainable-packaging initiatives. Some go even further: Nike, for example, launched responsibility programs that address its social and economic impact on the communities in which it operates.

Green energy is at the heart of all ecological strategies because it affects companies in three vital areas: environmental, economic, and social (see figure 2).

Environmentally, a company’s core activities will determine the size of its energy footprint, but reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which have a sizable environmental impact, is an essential element for any sustainability pledge.

Economically, conserving energy can have a huge impact and mitigates risk around fossil fuel costs. After a company has picked the low-hanging fruit—the well-known, no-cost energy-conservation measures—the question becomes how to further reduce energy consumption, especially in an environment of volatile commodity prices and supply. Green energy practices can also improve revenues, thanks to many of today’s shoppers who are especially loyal to environment-friendly brands. The United Kingdom’s Carbon Trust initiative, for example, has prompted companies such as Walkers Crisps, Levi Strauss, and PepsiCo to add a carbon reduction label to packaging that states the amount of GHG emissions associated with manufacturing and distributing.

On the social front, the sustainability argument focuses on community impacts, such as how open-pit mining or hydroelectric dam construction can affect life in a small town or how energy projects can create jobs.

With this trifecta of factors in mind, many firms recognize the value of going green and want to build renewable-energy initiatives into their corporate goals without negatively affecting the bottom line. Yet, going green can positively affect a company’s bottom line through energy efficiency and financially feasible renewable projects.

Green energy is at the heart of corporate sustainability strategies

Saving energy: the greenest and usually the most profitable strategy

Becoming more energy efficient is the first step toward reaching sustainability goals. Energy efficiency projects can vary in terms of capital investment and complexity, ranging from simple changes in lighting policies or production processes to investing in more efficient heating systems. Most initiatives yield attractive returns and relatively short payback periods. For example, AT&T is saving $86 million a year in energy costs from roughly 8,700 energy projects launched within the past two years, and Tesco estimates that energy efficiency projects dating back to 2006 are now saving the company $320 million a year.

Energy-efficiency measures also help achieve sustainability goals that are expressed as a percentage of overall consumption. If total energy consumption is reduced, less renewable energy is needed to reach those targets. Thus, assessing current energy consumption and right-sizing potential is directly related to the type of renewable-energy technology that best suits a company’s needs.

In addition, putting a spotlight on ways to improve energy efficiency can reveal unexpected new ways to improve standard operations (see sidebar: Going green can trigger innovation).

However, energy efficiency is rarely the silver bullet for achieving ambitious sustainability goals. And it’s not a matter of choosing energy efficiency over renewable energy or vice versa—rather, it’s combining both to the best possible effect. The multitude of initiatives and strategies it takes to realize this ideal combination can be daunting. The market has recognized this dilemma, and various energy-efficiency and renewable-energy offerings now minimize risk exposure and require minimal internal resources. Essentially, they allow locking in a price for an agreed-upon period of time. Providers of these services usually guarantee certain savings and earn a commission on every reduction target that is met, while taking on the risk for missed targets.

It is possible to blend usually profitable energy-efficiency projects with less attractive renewable-energy investments—in essence, cross-subsidizing the latter with the former. Although it is essential to define an all-inclusive strategy that combines both types of initiatives, renewable-energy projects can be structured as standalones with no subsidies. While sometimes cumbersome at first, such an approach generates higher value.

The economics of energy

Financial feasibility is often a challenge when implementing a renewable-energy project. After all, such projects compete with other business investments and have to pass the same return-on-investment tests. The economics of an energy project are determined by five parameters that can differ widely depending on regional or even site-specific factors: energy prices, technological effectiveness, incentives, capital expenditures (capex), and operations and maintenance.

Energy prices. Price defines both the cost of the energy that the project is intended to replace and the key cost components for certain type of energy projects, such as biomass, an option that faces its own inherent hurdles (see sidebar: the biomass challenge). Energy prices are determined by regional generation portfolios, the price of competing fuels (particularly natural gas), and a company’s demand pattern. The development of shale gas in North America and elsewhere is expected to dramatically reduce the price of gas—and thus electricity—making it even harder for renewable energy projects to compete.

Technological effectiveness. Technology is especially important because renewable-energy sources yield widely varying amounts of energy, differ significantly across regions, and often depend on site-specific parameters. Thus, a one-size-fits-all technology is unlikely to make sense for a global company. The most popular renewable-energy strategies are usually those that implement a portfolio of various technologies—even as they can cause problems with operating competencies and involve high maintenance costs. As an example, biogas installations require permanent care and quality control, but photovoltaic (PV) systems require only a fraction of the manpower to operate.

Most renewable-energy technologies are evolving rapidly, and feasibility studies performed only a few years ago might look entirely different today. The lesson here is that going green with renewable energy is not a one-time decision. Rather, it is a multifaceted, continuous process of building up the right portfolio in the best way (see figure 3).

As most renewable-energy technologies are evolving rapidly, going green is a continuous process

Incentives. Incentive mechanisms differ from country to country and state to state, but there are two general types: feed-in tariffs and tax credits.

  • Feed-in tariffs define a fixed rate per sold kilowatt hour from renewable energy sources. The system is common in most European countries, is used in the Canadian province of Ontario, and is being considered in other regions of North America. The intent of feed-in tariffs is for the electricity seller to benefit from the incentive to stimulate demand for renewable-energy applications. Although CPG firms and retailers tend to consume the generated electricity so they can claim true “green-ness,” this system is of little help. Nevertheless, a company might decide to embark on a safe-haven investment under this kind of incentive, if only as a way to gain experience for investing in self-consumption once lower technology costs make such incentives unnecessary.
  • Tax credits are common in North America. These credits reduce the burden of the upfront capital investments by granting a tax refund on a share of the investment (investment tax credit) and credits or depreciation allowance for each kilowatt hour produced over a certain period (production tax credit). Because these credits generally do not require selling the energy produced, they are ideal for retailers and CPG companies.

Capital expenditures. Capex is usually the most important—and in the case of solar and wind projects, the only—material cost component and therefore a key driver of project profitability. Capital expenditures are driven not only by technology sourcing, but also by tailoring engineering and project design to specific site conditions.

Operations and maintenance (O&M). While operations and maintenance comprise a relatively small cost component, they are essential to plant functionality and, thus, yield. O&M costs are often based on the level of variation. Different versions of technologies at various locations are incredibly cost-intensive, while larger numbers of identical technology allow for better conditions in O&M service contracts.

Clearing capital hurdles

Energy projects, whether conventional or renewable, are generally capital intensive and require large initial investments. Because such projects are low risk and have a long life span, typically 20 to 30 years, payback periods tend to be lengthy. How does this jibe with retailers and CPGs that typically target 10-year payback periods at 12 to 18 percent? Our experience is that it doesn’t. Instead, a third-party contractor can take on the capital burden and deliver energy savings through up-front pricing agreements. While high-return projects are common in product development, they are less so in renewable energy, without putting the project at risk.

Adding to the challenge is the convergence of aggressive sustainability targets, a fragmented operations footprint, and varying energy needs. In most cases, targets cannot be met by silver-bullet projects but by tailored, multisite projects. This requires significant incremental resources to manage development, construction, and operations. Companies want projects that need limited capital investment and minimal internal resources. Therefore, they need to identify the best capital and internal resources that will deliver the most profitable project, especially when going green with a renewable technology. Figure 4 shows renewable energy projects and varying degrees of commitment.

Ownership. Obviously, full—and even partial—ownership requires significant capital investment. What might not be as apparent is that ownership requires significant internal resources to develop and operate a plant. These kinds of investments typically generate 8 to 10 percent return rates over a 20-year project lifetime, certainly not very desirable returns for the typical retailer or CPG company. The advantage of ownership is in gaining internal expertise, having more control over production and future development, and being independent from conventional energy sources or green-energy providers that might not be qualified.

Contracting. A contract structure eliminates the main disadvantages of ownership. For example, the developer handles project design, financing, construction, and operation. Contracting also allows energy purchases at or below market prices.

For some renewable-energy sources—wind, for example—production needs to be shaped to demand. This can be accomplished either through the developer or contracted out to the incumbent utility company—a scenario that can put significant strain on project profits.

Examples of varying degrees of commitment for renewable energy projects

The downside of using a developer is that it is harder for the contracting firm to gain green expertise, but this can be resolved by hiring some of the developer’s engineers or flipping ownership after 15 or 20 years.

Power purchase agreements (PPA). A PPA is a long-term agreement—typically 10 to 20 years— with a developer or utility to purchase a certain volume of green power at a fixed price. For wind and solar projects that generate intermittent power, the purchase can be for demand-specific volumes from either the utility or a third party. As with a contract strategy, a PPA requires no capital and no owned resources. On the other hand, as with contracting, a PPA does not allow for developing internal green-energy expertise and requires a long-term commitment. Although attractively priced, tailored PPAs are not available everywhere.

Certification. Companies that acquire renewable energy certificates go green without actually changing their energy consumption portfolio. They claim green status by buying a commitment incremental to the company’s current energy costs. The strategy is neither cost-neutral nor profitable and may well be of little value in terms of public perception.

The path to green

As major retailers, manufacturers, and utilities pursue the value of going green, three lessons can be used as guidelines to a stronger bottom line:

Don’t sacrifice profits. Companies can make good on sustainability pledges and still create value. Remember, however, that returns are typically below industry norms, especially for CPG companies. We have helped clients find partners along the energy supply chain that have lower thresholds or longer investment horizons to overcome this obstacle.

Consider the entire spectrum of solutions. While overall complexity needs to be managed, our experience is that an all-inclusive approach is most effective, such as improving energy efficiency while scouting for renewable-energy options. This is the best way to evaluate the full spectrum of solutions and potential partnerships. Rather than cross-subsidizing renewable energy with energy-efficiency gains, we look at a portfolio of options and then pick the combination with the best outcomes.

Focus on partnerships. Finding the right development or financing partner can make all the difference. Seek out relationships with reputable technology suppliers and service providers to help ease the learning curve. This will require a significant amount of strategic consideration and mid- to long-term vision. The “lowest bidder no matter what” approach is not the way to go.


Authors

Kish Khemani

Mathias Wiecher

Courtesy of www.kearney.com

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Microsoft helps found the Transform to Net Zero initiative

Nine leading companies have announced the establishment of the Transform to Net Zero initiative. The aim of this initiative is to promote and step up the transition to a net zero global economy. Their intention is to deliver research, guidance, and feasible plans that will allow businesses to net zero emissions. 

The founding members of this initiative include A.P. Moller – Maersk, Danone, Mercedes-Benz AG, Microsoft Corp., Natura &Co, NIKE, Inc., Starbucks, Unilever, and Wipro, as well as Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). This initiative also has the support of the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) organisation. 

The President and CEO of BSR, Aron Cramer, explained that in the last ten years many businesses have committed themselves to achieve net zero targets but it was now time hasten their efforts to achieve this “essential goal.” 

“More than just setting a high bar for inspiration, Transform to Net Zero will provide companies with an actionable roadmap enabling them to transform their businesses to thrive in and shape a net zero economy,” Cramer stated. 

The goal of this initiative is to enable the change needed for businesses to reach net zero emissions by the year 2050. In addition, the initiative will push for transforming policies, innovation and finance to reach this goal. 

The President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, stressed that leading companies have the responsibility to develop and share the best of their practices, research and learnings to help everyone move forward. 

“Whether a company is just getting started or is well on its path, Transform to Net Zero can help us all turn carbon commitments into real progress toward a net zero future,” Smith said. 

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African Development Bank invests billions in Nedbank SDG-linked bonds

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has recently completed an investment of R2 billion in Sustainable Development Goals-linked bonds (SDG bonds) that were issued by Nedbank South Africa.

This investment will strengthen Nedbank’s capital base and allow it to generate billions for investments in environmentally friendly and climate-sensitive projects such as affordable housing and renewable energy. 

Boost for South Africa’s economy

This is a first for Africa. It is expected to boost the South African economy by creating more than 6000 new jobs and an estimated 20 000 SME loans. There will be an additional estimated R4 billion investment in clean energy. This would help South Africa become less dependent on coal-generated power during the next decade. 

AfDB’s Director for the Financial Sector, Stefan Nalletamby, said that they are pleased to able help the South African economy.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the South African economy by injecting investment into the private sector through a responsible and trusted partner who is committed to responsible investing. This investment will help accelerate the recovery of the economy after the slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Nalletamby said.

This investment will also aim to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds such as women and those who live in rural communities. In Southern Africa, there are thousands of people who have difficulty banking and would benefit from Nedbank’s low-cost digital financing initiatives. During the next five years, this could lead to an estimated R2 billion in SME loans. 

Emphasis on going green

This investment is in line with the African Development Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022). This plan is focused on promoting green and inclusive growth. It is also in keeping with their top five priorities: 

(i) Light up and Power Africa, 

(ii) Feed Africa 

(iii) Industrialize Africa 

(iv) Integrate Africa  

(v) Improve the lives of African people.

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