Saturday, 27 November 2021

Kouga community takes the reins through development trust

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Kouga community takes the reins through development trust

KOUGA COMMUNITY TAKE THE REINS THROUGH DEVELOPMENT TRUST

Kouga Wind Farm’s community development trust is helping to foster much-needed local inclusivity and growth through the development of economic infrastructure says MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mlungisi Mvoko.

Mvoko, who attended the launch of the Kouga Wind Farm Development Plan today, which has been two years in the making.

The trust and the plan form part of the Kouga Wind Farm’s licensing conditions.  The wind farm is in Oyster Bay and includes the communities of Umzamowethu, Sea Vita, Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay, and the Humansdorp’s KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein.

The development trust is created in collaboration with communities to uplift these areas.

The licensing conditions also prescribe that communities hold a stake in the wind farm facilities.  In the case of Oyster Bay, the community owns 26% of the energy infrastructure facility that was established in 2015.

The development trust helps guide communities to improve their quality of life.  It focuses on seven areas.

The Kouga Wind Farm community has determined that the greatest focus will be on education and development (25%), followed by welfare and humanitarian initiatives (20%), then arts, culture and sport (15%). 

Enterprise development (10%), healthcare (10%), conservation, environment and animal welfare (10%), and lastly, land and housing (10%) get an equal share.

“The development of the trust has been an interesting process.  The community has been given the chance to take a new look and identity the assets they already have,” says Boniswa Orleyn, MD of Bophelo Impilo Development Centre who helped the communities with the process.

“Oyster Bay’s mostly dormant community assets identified for development are currently valued at R26 million which will be put to good use

The viability of the plans should attract up to about R300 million in five years with R150 million being designated for infrastructure, land and buildings, while R144 million will finance other community development programmes.

Mvoko is delighted with the developments to date and says it is indicative of the catalytic effect of energy infrastructure investments.

The milestones for the trust include the start of an R10 million afterschool programme, the rollout of the community broadband network worth another R10 million, various development projects which are now underway, a COVID-19 relief programme and the construction of a pedestrian pathway.

“The magnitude of impact through these investments are significant if developments like these are replicated for every energy infrastructure being built in the province.  Consider that the province is home to 16 wind farms and one solar farm,” he explains.

Beyond this impact for communities, the energy infrastructure translates into a significant contribution to the energy security of the province. 

“The 32 wind turbines generate about 300 million kilowatt-hours per year of electricity, enough to supply approximately 50,000 average households with electricity annually,” he adds.

“Energy investments in the province represent commitments of R4.6 billion for socio-economic development and R1.2 billion for enterprise development, and R7 billion in net income for community trusts.

“In other words, energy investments are playing a catalytic role in job creation, industrial development and meaningful economic transformation by deepening local inclusion through community trusts and local enterprise development,” he explains.

In the case of the Kouga Wind Farm, Mvoko says it is encouraging that the trust is implementing projects in the beneficiary community from the proceeds of the wind farm.

Mvoko says the project is a testament to the power of collaboration: “We can do so much more if we do it together.” 

He refers to the Independent Power Producers forum that includes the community, municipality and power producers who have worked together to ensure that the wind farm represents a win-win for the wind farm stakeholders.