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Mpumalanga project aims to be launch pad for Eskom’s JET goals

Amid the country’s efforts for a greener footprint and power utility, Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) – a local project to drive large-scale, socio-economic development initiatives, is expanding its operation to Mpumalanga.

With the hopes of driving South Africa closer toward its Social Development Goals (SDGs) and decarbonisation, alongside the JET, Impact Catalyst, an initiative founded by Anglo American, the CSIR, Exxaro, and World Vision, South Africa is expanding into Mpumalanga after a series of positive successes.

Impact Catalyst Mpumalanga was launched on November 21, at the Ridge Casino, eMalahleni, coinciding with the commencement of the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, and the South African power utility’s push for the Just Energy Transition.

Eskom’s recently laid out JET plan was initiated to focus on achieving “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, with an increase in sustainable jobs.

Eskom said the additional benefits of moving towards lower carbon technologies are the positive impact on air quality and water usage, the potential to create new exciting jobs, and greater preservation of biodiversity in South Africa.

The first chapter of Impact Catalyst was launched in Limpopo Province, followed by the Northern Cape.

Mpumalanga was recognised as the next location for the programme given Mpumalanga provincial government’s effort and planning objectives coupled with its long-term vision for Mpumalanga through the MP 2045 Vision project.

Mpumalanga’s goals for MP 2045 Vision strongly align with South Africa’s Social Development Goals (SDGs), decarbonisation and the missions of Eskom’s JET.

The province’s project goals include the adoption of economies in a post-coal mining landscape with zero reliance on coal mining, re-purposing of power generation infrastructure, sustainable mine closure and environmental management for agricultural development.

Chairman of Impact Catalyst, Mzila Mthenjane, said that Mpumalanga was an important economic contributor to the country’s economy with advantages, including skilled human resources, solar and wind resource potential for renewable energy and extensive grid infrastructure.

“We must acknowledge the critical role played by coal mining in the socio-economic development and prosperity of the province. The imperative to transition is an opportunity to create a new future together as social partners and further the province’s prosperity. The Impact Catalyst Mpumalanga is the vehicle for such a bold vision,” Mthenjane said.

Impact Catalyst Mpumalanga is set to pursue several initiatives, including supporting the re-purposing of power generation infrastructure, sustainable mine closure and environmental management for agricultural development, and exploring re-industrialisation opportunities through community-led projects.

Mpumalanga’s Impact Catalyst will also prioritise manufacturing initiatives while enhancing essential services, such as the digitisation of schools, early childhood development centres, primary health care, and basic ICT to communities – all while being aligned with the energy transition.

“The release of the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan is the first step in South Africa achieving its ambitions of being an inclusive, green, globally competitive economy.

“Our success will hinge on our ability to collaborate and act quickly and transparently,” said Joanne Bate Industrial Development Corporation COO and Impact Catalyst Board Member.

Mpumalanga will become the latest centre after a series of recent, notable successes by Impact Catalyst. The latest includes hosting the Mine Water Coordinating Body (MWCB), an initiative funded by Eskom, Thungela Resources, Exxaro and Glencore.

MWCB was formed to address environmental and socio-economic challenges associated with mine and power station closures, including long-term mine water management and a sustainable regional socio-economic closure plan in the Upper Olifants Basin.

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