20th of January 2022 - The 77% of the energy needs of South Africa, the largest electricity market in Africa, is currently provided by coal, which is affected and influenced by frequent supply shortages, rising tariffs, and lower energy intensity. In order to face these issues, under its Integrated Resource Plan 2019, the country has established important targets in terms of renewables capacity to be added and about 11.000 MW of coal-fired capacity to be decommissioned, driving the shift towards a renewables-based economy. However, increasing the role of renewable resources carries major socio-economic challenges: understanding the impact of a reform on jobs is a key issue for ensuring an energy transformation that is just for all, especially in a country like South Africa where the coal sector is the largest mining contributor to gross domestic product and the third largest employer, counting about 92,000 direct employees.
For this reason, in the framework of its Sub-Saharan Programme, RES4Africa Foundation launched the Re-skilling Lab, marking the beginning of a tailor-made capacity building programme focused on the re-skilling of coal sector workers.
RES4Africa has joined forces with Eskom to offer the country's first Re-Skilling programme. As the first coal power plant scheduled to be decommissioned as part of the IRP 2019, Komati Power Station has been selected as the pioneer project of the Re-skilling Lab. The definition and implementation of the programme will be driven by a dedicated working group coordinated by RES4Africa and consisting of a variety of local institutions and renewable energy developers active in South Africa, including Eskom, EWSeta, SARETEC, CSIR, SASOL, Nedbank, Enel Green Power, Nordex Acciona, Schneider Electric, Siemens Gamesa, and Vestas. Building on the knowledge and competences of all its members, the working will define the scope and curriculum of this first phase of the Re-skilling Lab dedicated to Komati.
The group met for the first time on the 19th of February, with the participation of 35 representatives from the working group’s members. The saw the presentation of a wide range of inputs to be evaluated: the socio-economic context of Komati Power Station and the surrounding area evidenced by Eskom; the potential for TVET colleges to contribute to reskilling as set out by the sector training authority EWSeta; and the demand for skills related to the renewable energy industry and other potential sectors of employment for Re-skilling Lab trainees as shown by research conducted by CSIR and RES4Africa and the experience of numerous renewable energy industry representatives. The Foundation is proud to continue its integral work towards a just energy transition for South Africa.