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Sector development agency GreenCape this year celebrates 10 years of leveraging funding partnerships and networks to facilitate R41 billion worth of investment into South Africa’s green economy.

Since the beginning of GreenCape, the agency has seen the green economy agency support the creation of 19,000 direct green jobs. Originally established to facilitate the growth of the Western Cape’s renewable energy sector, GreenCape’s operations have expanded over the years to a national footprint with a broader green economic focus including water, sustainable agriculture, circular economy and green finance.

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Western Cape Premier Alan Winde: “When I first launched GreenCape as a non-profit green economy sector development agency in 2010, I envisaged impact on a scale that would make a significant difference to the green economy of this region. Over the past 10 years, GreenCape has delivered this impact.

“These green economy projects have driven green economic growth in the Western Cape and South Africa. While much has been achieved over the last 10 years, all of us need to redouble our efforts and focus on delivering an economic recovery that will deliver job and dignity for our people,” said Winde.

Additionally, the GreenCape team has grown from an initial staff of three in 2010 to a team of 45 in 2020. As a cluster organisation, the GreenCape business membership has grown to more than 2,200.

Western Cape minister of finance and economic opportunities David Maynier: “Over the past 10 years GreenCape has implemented multiple keystone projects that have unlocked barriers to green economic growth, importantly with projects that focus on building energy security and resource resilience in the Western Cape.”

GreenCape taking its place on a global stage

Initially funded by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, GreenCape’s funding partnerships has now diversified to include the City of Cape Town’s Department of Enterprise Development and Investment as a core funder, as well as multiple national government departments, DFIs, international funders, foundations and the private sector.

Recently a formal memorandum of understanding was signed with the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism to collaborate on using a cluster approach to build a green economy in Mpumalanga from October 2020.

GreenCape is the only African member of the International Cleantech Network. This global network of global cleantech clusters connects local green businesses to global market opportunities. For example, GreenCape is the South African contact point to assist local cleantech companies to apply to join the Solar Impulse Foundation 1,000 Efficient Solutions Label portfolio. The agency is also the current secretariat for the South African Plastics Pact and the coordinator of the development of the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan.

Mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management Alderman James Vos pointed out the green economy is a key sector in Cape Town that has an enormous potential to contribute to a thriving, sustainable business ecosystem that creates jobs. “We have identified the green economy as a high growth sector that will be able to contribute to sustainable jobs in the near future. I am particularly proud of our partnership with GreenCape and the returns on investment and the development of the green economy we have seen,” said Vos.

Investing in a green economy is about more than just the environment

Highlights of GreenCape’s work over the past ten years include:

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme: Free facilitation services to businesses which provide members with time and technical expertise and connects companies with unused or residual resources such as materials, energy, water, assets, logistics and expertise.

Small scale embedded generation (SSEG) municipal framework: GreenCape supports local municipalities to grow capacity related to SSEG while creating policy certainty for investors. Changes in municipal regulations governing SSEG system installations have improved market conditions for investors, equipment suppliers, project developers and technical advisors.

Project management for designation of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone: GreenCape was the Atlantis SEZ project management unit between 2013 and 2019, responsible for coordinating the successful application for designation. The Atlantis skills development programme is an ongoing consultation and audit programme to develop the necessary skills to allow for potential employment by the growth of the SEZ.

Drought business support: GreenCape’s drought support team offered free support to Western Cape business and continues to do so through ongoing funding from the provincial government. The goal is to help business reduce their water use to sustain business operations and build resilience.

The Green Outcomes Fund: A partnership between National Treasury’s Jobs Fund and GreenCape, signed at the beginning of 2020, provides outcomes-based matched (concessional) funding to local investment to support investments in local SMMEs that make a demonstrable contribution to the country’s green economy.

Market Intelligence Reports: GreenCape’s annual reports highlighting investment opportunities in key green economy sectors, developed in partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Building back better for a green recovery

Over the past few months, GreenCape has worked with various partners during the lockdown on:

  • Green SMME recovery – safeguarding jobs and supporting business recovery through mobilising direct international relief funding and collaborating nationally and internationally on policy levers for green SMME recovery.
  • International trade competitiveness – supporting investment promotion and highlighting SA as a green economy hub for Africa.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure Opportunity development – supporting public and private infrastructure resilience across energy, water and the circular economy.
  • Alternative service delivery – supporting service delivery resilience and promoting citizen empowerment.
  • Green finance – mapping and facilitating access to financing for green project and business in SA.
  • Green skills development – targeted capacity building in the public and private sector.

GreenCape CEO Mike Mulcahy explained lowering carbon emissions is at the heart of the global climate change narrative, but a green economy could mean so much more to the people of South Africa. “A green economy is an economy with decent jobs underpinned by sustainable, efficient, clean and profitable infrastructure solutions that will create and sustain jobs and well-being for this generation and the generations to come. This is what we are most excited about – to celebrate the milestone and continued opportunities to collaborate with our funders and partners towards this goal,” added Mulcahy.