South African
president Jacob
Zuma
 
Hazelmere, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 05 December 2011 – President Jacob Zuma has launched what has been described as South Africa’s flagship solar power plant at Hazelmere, in the KwaZulu Natal province.

The launch comes amid South Africa’s hosting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP17, which enters its second week in Durban today.

Zuma said the solar plant was expected to improve the lives of both the people of Hazelmere and of those from its surroundings areas. “For the first time, the neighbouring communities will have access to clean electricity generated from their backyards, and with possibilities of job opportunities,” he added.

Zuma said the partnership between Soitec and Ethekwini Municipality, which had resulted in the solar plant, was also designed to include skills development in which the local community would benefit, especially the youth.

“We are happy that the KwaZulu Natal provincial government has made a strategic decision to begin positioning itself for renewable energy production in South Africa,” he said.

In an earlier address to delegates at COP17, Zuma said their efforts to explore the possibility of scaling up the renewable energy option in the local energy mix would assist South Africa in addressing the green economy value chain to create employment and to alleviate poverty.

“This is the path we are taking as a country, and we want you to bring the technologies and financial resources to our shores for investment in the proposed energy initiatives,” Zuma added.

Zuma warned that if nothing was done, climate change would leave South Africa with uninhabitable waste lands and socio-economic disasters.

“This is South Africa’s first large-scale offering within the clean energy arena, but it is not the last. We are looking at other possible avenues to improve our emissions profile while creating employment opportunities for our people,” he said.