Source: Knowledge Pele

South African research, development and advisory company, Knowledge Pele (KP), has launched its first social impact investments to address key needs in township, peri-urban and rural communities: social infrastructure and industrial development.

Launched in the community of Touwsrivier in the Western Cape, the investments Include a 20kw off-grid rooftop solar system and a hydroponic farm, which qualify as impact investments as they deliver both social and financial returns.

According to the firm, the solar system powers the no-fee paying school, Touwsrivier Primary School and will deliver free, clean and reliable electricity to the school for at least 20 years. This will allow the school to redirect roughly R100,000 per annum away from electricity expenses towards core educational needs.

The solar system is designed to pay itself off within 12 years, which will enable reinvestment in other social needs. The hydroponic farm is commercial and will create two permanent jobs. Read more: City of Cape Town to investigate affordable solar PV structures

An additional, larger-scale farm is to be built in Touwsrivier in the first quarter of 2019, creating 30 permanent jobs. The farms have secured offtake agreements with large retailers.

The capital for these investments was provided by CPV 1 and KP.

CPV 1 is a 36MW solar plant located in Touwsrivier. It is licensed under the renewable energy independent power producers procurement programme (REIPPPP). It was one of the first 28 projects to be licensed under the programme in 2011 and commenced operation at the end of 2014.

Fumani Mthembi, MD of Knowledge Pele explains that the firm’s work “seeks to provide a response to the Inclusive Growth challenge of South Africa. The key insight of our approach is portfolio deconstruction– rather than investing in one or two mega infrastructure projects, the same size investment can be deployed in smaller packages across multiple communities, exponentially increasing the direct social impact.”