The Northern Cape has always been known as a mining and agricultural province. But a new industry is taking hold in the region – that of renewable energies.
Already, the Industrial Development Corporation has approved funds for 12 renewable energy projects in the province, including Abengoa’s Khi Solar One concentrated solar power farm near Upington and the Kakamas Hydro-Electric Power plant, which is creating energy from the waters of the Orange River.
To date, the renewable energies sector makes up R5.5-billion of the IDC’s estimated R14-billion exposure in the province, second only to mining, which stands at R7-billion. Because of these investments, the regional office has the second highest exposure behind Gauteng.
The Northern Cape, geographically, makes up 30% of South Africa yet it has a population of just one million, or 2% of the country’s population. Its mining sector, mainly of manganese and iron ore, is the main contributor to its year-on-year gross domestic product growth rate of 2.8%, the second highest behind Mpumalanga.
The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC), has appointed the IDC as coordinator for the Northern Cape-Saldanha Corridor and Green Industries both strategic infrastructure projects (SIP5 and SIP8). SIP5 links the Sishen mine to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone, along the iron ore railway line. Ahmed says this allows the province to find ways of unlocking business potential in the development zone.
Together with Anglo American, the IDC is in the process of conduction a study into the feasibility of an industrial supplier park in Kathu. This is expected to kick start local manufacturing, he adds. “We want to ensure that after all the iron ore and manganese have been mined, that the local economy is sufficiently diversified to continue to flourish as the case with Johannesburg, a historic gold mining town.”
Mining is fueling rapid growth in the Northern Cape town of Kathu, and nearby alternative energy projects are bringing business people from foreign climes. Urban Hotels is placed to take advantage of the boom times
History is being made on the banks of the Orange River, where the Kakamas Hydro Electric Power project will be the first independent power producer to deliver clean energy via a run-of-river mini-hydro in South Africa. It will generate enough electricity for 5 000 homes.