The role of socio-economic development projects by renewable energy companies in the Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality, Upington, in the Northern Cape Province

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Mbobo, Babalwa Constance
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University of the Free State
This study examines the socio-economic and economic development undertaken by renewable energy projects under the REIPP programme in Upington, in the Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality (DKLM) in South Africa. The researcher analysed secondary data and applied a qualitative methodology. The semi-structured key informants' interviews and focus groups were used when collecting the data. The research participants, who were mostly community members, detailed their views and experiences of how the renewable energy sector affects their daily lives through the projects they have in their vicinity. This study revealed significant changes in renewable energy South African policies and strategies from the White Paper on Renewable Energy, promulgated in 2003, up to the REIPPP programme established in 2011. The REIPPP programme is a government-led procurement programme that aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the national grid by procuring energy from IPPs, especially now that the country is faced with energy insecurity challenges. The study continued in discussing participants' views about renewable energy projects. For decades it has been a known fact that renewable energy addresses the ever-growing demand for electricity while addressing climate change issues. In particular, both off-grid technologies and large-scale utility projects offer great potential for both rich and poor communities. Also, it contributes to economic development criteria, which includes local job creation, local ownership, social and economic development. However, community members raised concerns in relation to job creation, environmental impacts and socio-economic challenges. Some of the views are that there is limited job creation for local communities, there are negative environmental impacts and there are also negative consequences in relation to socio-economic aspects in host towns. In mitigating the adverse effects raised by community members, the study recommends that projects must have community acceptance and support from all stakeholders, including local municipalities. All host communities must be engaged, there must be a proper consultation, and all members must be aware of the positive effects and negative effects of projects. In relation to socio-economic issues, renewable energy companies need to fund and implement related projects that will address community needs and the negative consequences emanating from project implementation. It is therefore recommended for local communities to be vested in the long-term presence and success of renewable energy projects and also acceptance, and they need to see tangible and authentic benefit sharing from the projects. They need to be involved in all project stages.
Dissertation (MDS (Development Studies))--University of the Free State, 2022