South Africa had a limited window of opportunity to make itself a world leader in the creation of a green economy, which could generate more than 460,000 jobs, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) senior economist Nico Kelder says.

Presenting before Parliament’s economic development committee last week, Mr Kelder said South Africa had developed good policies and laws to kick-start its green economic initiatives, but it had now become a matter of implementation and enforcement.

The development of a domestic green economy is a cornerstone of Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel’s New Growth Path economic strategy.

Mr Patel signed an accord that binds government, organised business and organised labour to find ways to ensure the country as a whole becomes more energy-efficient, and to manufacture, for domestic use and export markets, renewable-energy technologies.

"However, many other countries are rushing to pass legislation and create incentives to encourage the growth of their own green industries and so time is limited for South Africa," Mr Kelder told the politicians.

He said these were exciting times for renewable-energy projects in South Africa and throughout Africa, and investor interest was clearly evident.

Mr Kelder pointed to the electricity sector, saying in 17 years’ time the country needed to be able to generate 56,000MW, of which 20,000MW needed to come from renewable sources and technologies.

The five-phase bid programme for independent power producers, which will use renewable energy sources, has key qualification criteria such as economic development, job creation and local content.

"We, as a country, have learnt a lot from the first two phases that were implemented in December 2011 and in April 2012, and these are forecast to create 21,214 jobs," Mr Kelder said.

Another scheme, installing solar water heaters, had created about 20,000 jobs.

Mr Kelder said last year 150,000 such solar water heaters, through the Eskom rebate programme, were installed but if the country wanted to increase the number of jobs then the rate of installation had to increase.

"The solar water heaters are not really saving electricity being consumed as many are being installed in new buildings or in dwellings that never had geysers," he said.

The IDC had teamed up with Germany’s state-owned development bank KfW to offer loan funding at concessionary rates with debt tenures of up to 15 years, Mr Kelder said.

"These loans’ repayments are structured to effectively match the savings profile of the technology installed so there is no out-of-pocket expenses for the company."

Mr Kelder said other government initiatives that had created jobs in the green economy were through the Expanded Public Works Programme, where the Working for Water, Working on Fire and Working for Forests projects had created 23,074 full-time job equivalents in 2011-12. This was expected to grow to 38,644 job equivalents in this financial year.

Vecchiatto, Paul. “SA must use ‘limited window’ to become green economy leader, says IDC.” BDlive. 22 April 2013. Web. Accessed 22 April 2013

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