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Collaborative initiative to empower communities – Northern Cape

Building upon the success of last year’s groundbreaking initiative, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) operating in the Pixley ka Seme District of the Northern Cape and Community Trust Companies recently concluded their second annual roadshow, spanning from April 23rd to April 26th in Hanover, De Aar, Philipstown, and Britstown. This year’s event aimed to further amplify the impact of economic development programs within the Pixley ka Seme Municipal District and foster collaboration for the upliftment of local communities.

Participating IPPs included De Aar Solar Power, Solar Capital De Aar 1, Lilitha Solar PV, and Mulilo, each demonstrating a steadfast commitment to driving positive change and fostering sustainable development and growth within the region. Complementing their efforts were four community trusts, namely: Sibona Ilanga Community Trust, Mulilo Wind and Mulilo Solar Community Trust, Solar Capital De Aar 1 Community Trust, and Solar Capital De Aar 3 Community Trust. These sessions played a pivotal role in elucidating the crucial distinction between IPPs SED and EnD entities and Community Trusts, thereby fostering greater understanding and collaboration among stakeholders. The IPPs collaboration was lauded for its potential benefits to congregate joint funding for scale and impact, forming strategic approaches to solving community needs and avoiding fruitless duplication of interventions.

Joined by local government stakeholders, the roadshow featured an array of engaging events, including insightful presentations, interactive sessions and visits to various projects where beneficiaries had an opportunity to share their experiences with Mr. Lazarus Mahlangu, Mr Khanyiso Zihlangu and Mr. Benjamin Shunilal from the Independent Power Producers Office (IPP Office).  During the project visits the IPP Office team witnessed first-hand the Enterprise Development (EnD) and the Socio-Economic Development (SED) initiatives that the IPPs have implemented and the impact they are currently making in these 4 towns.

Abner Wagenaar, Economic Development Manager for Lilitha Solar PV, reflected on the success of the event and expressed gratitude for the community’s and local government leaders’ ongoing support: “The increase in attendance and the constructive contributions made by community members to entrepreneurship and socio-economic development projects were heartening to witness. We are excited to see how best we can incorporate some of the insightful ideas into the implementation of some of our programs.”

Central to the roadshow’s agenda were discussions and inputs surrounding beneficiary interventions encompassing enterprise and socio-economic development programs. These initiatives span various sectors, including education, health, welfare, and professional skills development. Additionally, attendees gained valuable insights into methods of accessing funding and the application processes of different IPPs and Community Trust companies, further empowering them to leverage available resources for personal and community advancement.

The successful four-day event was highlighted with a glamorous event at the De Aar Town Hall on Freedom Day where beneficiaries of the Solar Capital De Aar 1 Bursary Programme were honoured with a graduation ceremony. Community members and families of graduates shared in the celebration of over 20 graduates, who graduated since the bursary program inception in 2017, under the theme “Freedom. Resilience. Redemption.”

“Fostering so many graduates—the majority of whom have found work in other provinces and even other countries—was an exhilarating exercise. What was more significant though, was that we were able to get internships for all our unemployed graduates in different De Aar government departments and agencies. This not only made sure that we filled critical gaps in vital public services in the health and social welfare sectors, but also made sure that graduates are offered practical work experience and thus become more employable, with great possibilities of future employment.” stated Anna Letsoalo, who is the Solar Capital De Aar’s Economic Development Manager.

Quandretto Sas, Economic Development Officer at Mulilo, expressed gratitude for the invite extended for the second annual IPP Community roadshow: “The second coming of this engagement was to build on the success and shortcomings from the pilot engagement we had with the community. All round it was a very informative and constructive few days of the IPP Roadshow, we can only further build up on this to ensure we lessen the socio-economic burdens of the community to some extent. Looking forward to the positive work we can put in place in the community by virtue of our programs.”

As the roadshow concluded, participants departed with renewed optimism and a strengthened resolve to continue their collaborative efforts towards community upliftment and sustainable development. The resounding success of this year’s event serves as a testament to the power of partnership and collective action in effecting meaningful change within the Pixley ka Seme Municipal District.

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