Posts

historic vaccine rolloutThe African Union (AU) has announced a deal that will send up to 400 million vaccines to 55 member states. The vaccines will go across the African continent in monthly shipments in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

On August 5, 2021, Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa made this historic vaccine rollout public. He reported that the AU had purchased 220 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in March. A possible 180 million additional vaccines can later be ordered.

How was the deal made?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Union joined forces with the World Bank and other organizations to support The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. The team aims to provide rapid access to doses of the vaccine for the people of Africa. The team comprises ten members, including political leaders, health ministers, businessmen and philanthropists from all across Africa.

The World Bank will continue to support the AU in this historic vaccine rollout, supplying resources that will allow individual nations to purchase and distribute the vaccine. Additional assistance will come from the United Nations. UNICEF will assist with delivery and distribution management across the African continent.

Why Johnson & Johnson?

Each of the 400 million doses included in the deal will come from Johnson & Johnson.

The calculus behind this decision was thorough: Since the vaccine comes in a single dose, it is easier and cheaper to produce and administer. Moreover, the vaccine’s relatively long shelf life will ease logistical concerns. A recent study from South Africa reported high efficacy for the single-shot J&J vaccine, with up to 96.2 percent protection against death. The study also reported high protection against both the Delta and Beta variants of COVID-19 in Africa.

The most significant piece of the vaccine deal will take place right at home—part of the vaccine manufacturing process will occur in South Africa. Centralized at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, this insourcing of production will provide new jobs that will, in part, assist with post-pandemic economic recovery.

Where Africa Stands

As a continent, Africa lags behind in vaccination rates, which has placed economic stress on many nations. Vaccination rates also exemplify pandemic inequities that permeate the globe. As of July 23, 2021, only 2.2 percent of the African population has received a dose of any vaccine. In North America, more than half the population has received at least one shot.

These 400 million doses are enough to immunize more than one-third of the African population. At the same time, more work will need to take place in order for the continent to reach its 60% goal as it continues to adapt to and fight against the pandemic.

This new deal to bring in and produce vaccines provides hope that cases and deaths related to COVID-19 in Africa can decrease. It also helps cement the hope that even some of the most impoverished areas in Africa can recover from the pandemic.

Sam Dils
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poverty-related crimeCrime is a significant issue around the world, especially in developing countries where limited resources contribute to higher poverty-related crime rates. In countries such as South Africa, high crime rates are prevalent among children and adolescents. Correlations exist because of increased time and fewer resources to productively fill children’s free time after school. Because of this, many nonprofit organizations and individuals have worked to provide more after-school activities for children as a deterrent from the path to criminal activity. Although many nonprofit-sponsored activities contribute to children’s education while discouraging criminal behavior, sports have been one of the most impactful extracurriculars due to a focus on discipline, responsibility and guidance.

Criminal Behavior in South Africa by the Numbers

Crime in South Africa is a significant issue that is rooted in poverty and inadequate access to basic resources. According to PLOS ONE, an online journal, “recent statistics show 2,250,257 crimes reported for 2015 alone [1]. Further all crimes have increased since 2013, when 2,217,862 crimes were reported [1]. Also the rate of interpersonal violence in South Africa is the sixth highest in Africa and fifteenth in the world, with an intentional homicide rate of 31.8 per 100,000 population [2].”

Based on the criminal activity report, criminal activity in South Africa is increasing from year to year and is largely tied to violent crimes such as homicide. These crimes are oftentimes fueled by a lack of economic resources in addition to psychological factors. Racial and gender inequality also exacerbate issues. Although these crime statistics include offenders of all ages, dangerous behavior and crimes are also significant issues in South African schools.

An organization called Safer Spaces conducted an observational study in which pupils from several South African schools and various grade levels were asked about their school experience. “Of all learners, 15.3% had been victimized (Burton, 2008). Of the secondary school learners, 22% had been victimized (Burton & Leoschut, 2013).” This is a large portion of the student body that is experiencing violence or other dangerous behavior while at school, making early intervention a necessary effort.

Extracurricular Solutions

Although poverty-related crime among youth is a big issue in South Africa as it can lead to more serious crimes in adulthood, extracurricular activities can make a significant impact in decreasing the number of children that engage in criminal behavior. For example, The International Committee of the Red Cross works with AMANDLA Edu Football to use soccer as a safe activity for South African children to spend their time with after school. The latter organization is a nonprofit that is paving the path for early intervention for criminal activity in South Africa. It is located in Capetown and runs during the peak crime hours, offering children and other individuals an alternative activity to crime.

In Capetown, this means that kids can spend their weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. and weekend nights on a soccer field where they learn discipline, respect, and have fun away from dangerous activities. This is especially impactful as it ensures that these children will have adult supervision and guidance between the time school ends and their parents get home from work, further decreasing opportunities for dangerous behaviors.

Poverty-related crime among youth is a serious issue in South Africa that contributes to high levels of violent crime in adulthood, making this a pressing issue to address. Moreover, criminal behavior is commonly linked with poverty, inadequate access to food and other daily necessities and other issues of discrimination. Partnering or contributing to organizations that provide extracurricular alternatives for children is key. These efforts ensure that children are equipped with the resources and guidance that will deter them from criminal behavior in the present and future and will decrease the overall levels of poverty-related crime.

– Kristen Quinonez
Photo: Flickr

Solar energy buses in South AfricaLately, pollution throughout the world has risen due to the effects of climate change, fossil fuels and the emittance of a handful of harmful chemicals in order for different countries to keep running. Ever since the late 1990s, renewable energy use on the African continent has been dropping, moving from a high of 74% in 1994 to 70% in 2015. Even in more prominent countries like Ghana, the 2015 rate was at a relatively small 41%. Some countries barely creep over 1%.

In the days of a global pandemic and climate change creeping up on the world, the need to utilize more natural forms of energy to power the world has become preeminent. And in South Africa, major steps are being taken, starting with their public transportation using clean energy buses.

Where Golden Arrow Comes In

In July 2021, Golden Arrow, one of the major organizations that provide public transportation for people in Cape Town, South Africa, has put out two fully electric buses to help transport individuals without using types of energy that are harmful to the air and to the world as a whole. According to IT News Africa, Golden Arrow began its renewable energy project back in 2016, and this project is in collaboration with the bus company, the city of Cape Town and New Southern Energy, a construction company based in South Africa that helps make solar energy products.

These clean energy buses in South Africa are expected to be run from Retreat all the way to Cape Town, which will be very convenient for people in the area due to the collapse of train services in the metro ran by MetroRail.

Due to this collapse of services, caused by poor conditions, looting and attacks from civilians, many people that worked for MetroRail have lost their jobs in an area where unemployment is already at an all-time high. The French Agency of Development (AFD), highlights that young people represent more than half of the unemployed population in Africa, or 60% to be exact. However, Golden Arrow has increased its services recently around the time these buses were introduced, so for some people in search of a job, bus operations might alleviate unemployment.

Launching the Effort

The program of launching these vehicles, according to IT News Africa, did not involve the vehicles themselves; it started from the ground up. Golden Arrow installed a small solar-powered system in one of its main vehicle depots in Epping, a small town within Cape Town. Then, in the next two phases of the program, it expanded its solar power capabilities by installing 2,500 panels at its Multimech stop. Then, with the success of these solar systems, it was time to test it out on the buses.

Two types of tests were done with the clean energy buses in South Africa, according to Techinafrica. One bus was completely empty, and the other had sandbags filled in the bus that simulated the weights of different passengers — 44 of them to be exact. For a few months, the team at Golden Arrow has been running those tests, becoming excited with the progress being made as Gideon Neethling, an engineer for Golden Arrow, stated, “Testing these vehicles has been a joy for everyone who is part of the project. Each time we carry out a new test or reach a new milestone, the level of excitement increases further.”

Considering the Future

According to Oxfam, an estimated 633 million people in Africa are living without access to electricity, and almost 800 million people are cooking food with old cookstoves, which is deemed not safe. With renewable energy use on a decline in Africa, these clean energy buses in South Africa stand to positively benefit the country and the continent as a whole. Golden Arrow can transport its 250,000 passengers every day, employ some of them to launch these solar-powered buses and then continue to add more buses to its network. Thanks to Golden Arrow, Africa is better poised to fight harmful energy, add new jobs and fight poverty within the continent.

– Matt Orth
Photo: Unsplash

Global Citizen FellowshipThe Global Citizen Fellowship is dedicated to creating solutions that will help alleviate global poverty. The program is based in Nigeria and South Africa. It focuses on encouraging members of the younger generation to join the fight in ending extreme poverty. Some members of the Global Citizen Fellowship have gone far and beyond to help achieve this goal. The program’s #MoveTheWorld Mondays social media movement inspires more people to get involved in ending extreme poverty.

What to Know About The Global Citizen Fellowship

The Global Citizen Fellowship began in 2018 and is open to citizens ages 21 through 25 who reside in Nigeria and South Africa. The inspiration behind creating the program was based on young citizens of Africa suffering from barriers such as unemployment. As a part of the BeyGOOD Initiative, the Global Citizen Fellowship prioritizes a focus on extreme poverty. The purpose of the Global Citizen Fellowship is to provide experiences that will help young people fight to end extreme poverty. One of the components of the Global Citizen Fellowship includes skills development. The 2021 program began in July and will continue through the year.

Global Citizen Fellowship’s Advisory Council

Some of the young people involved in this year’s program are currently members of the advisory council. Bonang Matheba founded the Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund, which advocates for issues such as providing free sanitary products. Aisha Yesufu is involved in the Bring Back Our Girls Movement and has held an entrepreneurial role for more than two decades. Charmaine Houvet is Cisco Africa’s public policy director and works with projects like the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees Project. Hamzat Lawal dedicates efforts to supporting the younger generation and is the leader of Connected Development. Nozipho Tshabalala is a phenomenal leader in the broadcasting field and works with Global Citizen, Learn Reflect Mobilise Grow and the World Bank. Tumi Sole is a corporate attorney fighting for social justice with his organization #CountryDuty.

One Way to Support Global Citizen

One trend created by Global Citizen Live will be beneficial to supporting the fight to end extreme poverty. Global Citizen recently created #MoveTheWorld Mondays to post on social media platforms. The purpose of #MoveTheWorld Mondays is to share one action weekly on Global Citizen’s accounts that can help end extreme poverty. People will have the opportunity to participate in the cause by taking actions shared in each post. One of the benefits of participating in #MoveTheWorld Mondays includes being able to attend events.

The Global Citizen Fellowship, a program created in 2018, encourages young people to join the fight to end extreme poverty. Many Africans, especially the younger generation, suffer from unemployment and other barriers. Therefore, it is important for people to contribute to fighting extreme poverty. Members of the Global Citizen Fellowship’s advisory council express their passion for helping their communities through their occupations. Global Citizen’s #MoveTheWorld Mondays can inspire more people to participate in ending extreme poverty.

– Chloe Moody
Photo: Flickr

riots in South AfricaSouth Africa’s poverty rates have long been high, and the pandemic exacerbated the situation for the country’s lowest-income people. Furthermore, weeks of riots in South Africa have left buildings burning, food scarce and many people in Durban and the surrounding cities starving.

Reasons for the Riots

On July 8, South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma started serving a sentence of 15 months in prison for contempt of court, an offense that entails disrespectful or insulting behavior toward a court of law or law officials. Zuma’s imprisonment angered supporters, especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. As a result, violence and unrest began to spread within the province.

Rioters blocked major highways and burned about 20 trucks, resulting in the closing of two major roads that link the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay to the industrial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town. Furthermore, looters ransacked shopping malls, taking food, electronics, clothes and liquor. The attacks spread through KwaZulu-Natal to the Gauteng province, the country’s largest city of Johannesburg and the seat of the country’s executive branch, Pretoria. In Durban and Pietermaritzburg, rioters also burned warehouses and factories, collapsing many of their roofs. A week into the riots, 25,000 army troops were deployed, ending the violence, but plenty of damage had already been done.

The Manipulation of the Poor

Thousands of businesses have closed due to fear of ambush by rioters. In addition, because of many looters taking clothes, food, medical supplies and even flat-screen TVs, more than 200 malls have been forced to shut down.

With many businesses closing down in the Durban area, food, clothes and other supplies are rarities. For people living in poverty in Durban and the surrounding towns, food was always scarce, but now it is even more so than usual. Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political analyst, said the communities have left people in poverty to fend for themselves in a system that keeps them in poverty, causing them to start lashing out.

While the riots initially protested the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, their continuation reflected general grievances over the inequality and poverty that have rocked the country. Amid people in poverty’s anger about decades of mistreatment and discrimination, criminals used the chaos for their own benefit.

July’s riots hit people with unstocked pantries and massive debt the hardest. President Cyril Ramaphosa sent troops to aid police in quelling the riots, but people in poverty remained in need of immediate relief.

Muslims for Humanity

Many Muslim organizations in South Africa have come together to bring relief to people impacted by the riots. South African Muslim businesses and NGOs such as Muslims for Humanity and Natal Memon Jamaat Foundation (NMJ) have come together to distribute bread and milk to communities impacted by violence and looting in the Durban area.

Aahana Goswami
Photo: Flickr

Johannesburg Zero-Waste Grocery BusThe COVID-19 pandemic has made life more challenging for everyone, including the people living in South Africa’s largest city. Johannesburg inner-city residents are especially vulnerable during this pandemic due to unemployment and food insecurity. But there is hope. The Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus has a mission of bringing healthy food to locals in a sustainable manner.

From Idea to Bus

The idea of a mobile grocery store was imagined by founder Ilka Stein and her team at the social enterprise ForReal. Starting in 2020, Stein and the 12 young volunteers of the ForReal team transformed an old bus into a mobile grocery store in just three months. Inside the “skhaftin bus,” metal containers are filled with dry foods, such as lentils, black beans, oats, samp, spices and brown sugar. The concept of the skhaftin bus is to bring your own “skhaftin,” a South African slang word for “lunchbox,” and fill it with the items you need. In addition to dry foods, the Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus has paired up with Bertrams Inner City Farm to provide fresh local produce, bread, juices and sauces. Stein believes that this bus will provide many locals with access to nutritious food in an affordable and eco-friendly way.

Fill Up with Food

The Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus plans on operating three days a week. During these three days, customers can come to the bus to pick up needed food. Procedurally, the inner-city residents bring their skhaftin and enter the front of the bus, spoon out dry goods from metal containers, pick up desired produce and finally head to the register. At the register, the customer pays according to the weight of the skhaftin and leaves through the back of the bus. Not only is it a quick food store, but it is also an environmentally conscious store.

Customers bring their own containers, which promote a plastic-free shopping experience. Additionally, the products are placed in metal tins to avoid the unnecessary use of plastic. The concept of fill-it-yourself versus pre-packaged amounts saves people from overbuying and eliminates food waste. These features aid in helping the planet as well as the poor. By eliminating excess packaging, Stein doesn’t have to pay the extra costs incurred from packaging and can lower the overall price of the skhaftin. Further, the take-what-you-need model saves the customers from paying for food that will just go to waste.

Money Matters

The affordable prices definitely draw people to the Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus. Shoppers find they can typically get more food for less money when buying from the bus versus the local grocery store. This has been a major source of relief for those unable to find a job, especially during COVID-19 and its consequential high unemployment rates.

The Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus provides job opportunities in addition to providing affordable food to combat poverty. Currently, Stein employs three young people from the local area to work on the bus. Stein also ensures that the bus is mindful of the surrounding businesses. The team continues to test out new parking locations so as not to interfere with local shops. The bus aims to aid the local community fight against poverty in a contentious way.

Rolling Into the Future

The Johannesburg zero-waste grocery bus plans to keep its valuable service going even when COVID-19 is no longer part of the picture. Overall, this mobile grocery store is proving to be extremely beneficial to people of inner-city Johannesburg. The food is inexpensive, nutritious, unprocessed and free from single-use plastics. Ilka Stein and her team are actively helping alleviate poverty in South Africa, one lunchbox at a time.

Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa has a direct impact on poverty in the region. When adults are too ill to work, they and their children can quickly fall into extreme poverty, which leads to hunger and malnutrition. Around 46% of Africa’s population lives on less than $1 a day; an even larger proportion than was the case 15 years ago. Despite these challenges, organizations like Wild4Life are working to expand the reach of healthcare into these underserved communities.

Poverty and Health Care in sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the continent. Close to 60 million children under the age of 17 work instead of attending school in an effort to help their families rise out of poverty. Every fifth child is forced into child labor. This effectively means that when grown, that person will lack education and most likely remain in poverty. This social plight creates a vicious cycle in which chronic malnutrition, growth disorders and physical and mental underdevelopment occur. These health issues further limit an individual’s opportunity to earn a living later in life. In addition, 25 million Africans are infected with HIV, including almost 3 million children — the highest rate of infection in the world. Many of these children have lost one or both parents and are living on the streets.

Government expenditure on healthcare in Africa is very low; typically about $6 per person. This means that medical workers experience huge pressures, operating with little-to-no equipment or means to reach rural populations, Such challenges make healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa difficult to provide.

Good News about Health Care in Rural Communities

The good news is that organizations such as Wild4Life are working to reverse these disturbing healthcare trends. The NGO’s mission is to expand the reach of health services to underserved remote, rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa that have limited or no access to healthcare. To achieve this goal, Wild4Life has developed an incredibly innovative service delivery model. The aim of this model is to reach more people than previously would have been possible. Wild4Life works to establish the basic building blocks of a healthcare system. It believes that a well-functioning system has a lasting effect on a community’s overall health and longevity.

Expansion to Twelve African Countries

The Wild4Life model involves partnering with organizations that are already established in remote locations, and that have put together links with people in the local community. This approach leverages the existing infrastructure, social ties and knowledge bank in cooperation with Wild4Life’s network of health providers. This allows support and treatment to impact some of the hardest-to-reach people and places on earth.

Wild4Life began as an HIV/AIDS program in Zimbabwe, but it has expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  Now operating in twelve countries — Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe —the organization delivers extremely low-cost healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa and provides interventions that are scalable yet sustainable.

Community Partnerships to Improve Health Care

The goals of the NGO include assessing the needs of rural populations and targeting the health issues that most affect them. It also seeks to build clinics in remote areas; strengthen rural healthcare networks; provide quality healthcare and improve community partnerships so that creative ways to address problems become permanent solutions. For example, Wild4Life trains community leaders to mobilize local demands for healthcare services and advocate for quality care from clinic staff and maintain facilities. This results in significant infrastructure improvements. The NGO also organizes events around such topics as improving healthy behaviors and coming up with strategies for the best way to use clinic funds.

Five Clinics in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe alone, Wild4Life has a network of five clinics. These clinics have achieved remarkable results, including hundreds of lives saved by new diagnosis and treatment of HIV as well as other preventable diseases. The organization believes that there is not one single technology or innovation that will create a lasting impact on the health of people living in rural communities. Instead, it partners with all levels of the healthcare system to locate the gaps in the extant setup. By doing this, it hopes to leave behind a resilient, local healthcare system for those who need it most.

During comprehensive clinical mentoring, well-trained, multi-disciplinary teams composed of six specialists comprehensively mentor clinic staffs on primary care conditions. These conditions include HIV, TB, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and testing for anemia. Such services also aid in labor and delivery. This process also covers monitoring and evaluation of data quality, pharmacy management and clinic management over a two-year period.

Scaling Up to Improve Healthcare in Africa

Wild4Life has significantly scaled up since its inception, through government, nonprofit and for-profit connections. It has gone from delivering care to remote areas, to building healthcare networks in rural populations. As a result of its expansion plan, 70,000 more people will have access to high-quality health services in their communities. By training clinicians and community members in the most up-to-date medical care delivery, the NGO is changing the way that rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is delivered.

Sarah Betuel

Photo: Flickr

Inspirational Quotes by Humanitarian Oprah WinfreyBorn to an unmarried teenage mother in 1954 and raised on a farm in Milwaukee, Mississippi by her grandmother, Oprah Winfrey’s childhood is the epitome of early life adversities. Winfrey’s experience with sexual abuse, racism and poverty forced her to recognize that she needed to change her perspective on life. She decided to transform her life into the positive and make the most of it. Winfrey is most known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. However, this was only one of the philanthropists’ many successes that led her to become the first female African American billionaire in North America. Below are a few inspirational quotes by humanitarian Oprah Winfrey.

Wise Words from Oprah Winfrey

 1997 Wellesley College Commencement Address

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

Winfrey followed this quote by acknowledging how life will always be a continuous roller coaster and mistakes will be made along the way. Winfrey’s life story is an example of how wounds shouldn’t define who you are. Instead, the vital aspect of life is how you respond to it. The year following her commencement speech in 1997, Winfrey created a public charity open called Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network. The charity’s purpose is to encourage people to use their own life to impact others positively.

 2007 Howard University Commencement Speech

“My integrity is not for sale, and neither is yours.”

This quote defines Winfrey’s belief that you should never sell yourself out, no matter what happens. She highlights that everyone should always believe in what they stand for. Additionally, Winfrey emphasizes that people should follow their dreams and encourage others to do so by doing precisely that herself.

 Watch the full speech here.

 2008 Stanford University Commencement Speech

“Every right decision I’ve made—every right decision I’ve ever made—has come from my gut. And every wrong decision I’ve ever made was a result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself.”

Winfrey tells the graduating class to do whatever they set their minds to. She then encourages them to trust their gut feelings and remember to have no doubt when their time arises. In addition to positively impacting millions of people, the humanitarian work Winfrey has done exemplifies that her advice is reputable and she knows what she is doing.

Watch the full speech here.

2018 Commencement Speech at USC Annenberg

“It will take more than you alone to pull 40 million Americans out of poverty, but who will you be if you don’t care enough to try?”

Upon delivering this quote, Winfrey mentions a conversation she had with Maya Angelou. They discussed the school she had established in South Africa, Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, which Winfrey believed would be a part of her legacy. But, thanks to Angelou, Winfrey soon learned that her legacy would be the impact she had on every person, not her charity work. This changed her perspective forever.

 2018 Golden Globes Future of Women Speech

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

During this speech, Winfrey honored and showed her respect for each woman who had experienced forms of abuse and was courageous enough to tell their story. Moreover, her charitable work and foundations demonstrate her determination to encourage women and girls’ to hold their heads high.

2018 Interview with Reader’s Digest

“I believe every moment is a building block and another step in your journey to being who you are meant to be, and who you are meant to become.”

During this interview, Winfrey recalls meeting Nelson Mandela for the very first time. She describes meeting Mandela as a “defining moment” where she was inspired and enlightened. As a result of this experience, she created the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The school was the first-ever graduating class consisting of 72 young girls.

Winfrey created the non-profit, Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, in 2007 for young South African girls suffering from a lack of essential educational resources. The school offers a high-quality education system for grades 8-12 so young girls’ have the opportunity to expand their educational background. Consequently, this increases their chances of becoming great female leaders in any career field. Over 400 of the academy’s graduates decided to continue their education by attending college and in 2018, the graduating class consisted of 58 girls.

The Impact of Winfrey’s Words

Winfrey continues to impact young girls by remaining heavily involved within her foundation. Furthermore, she encourages women worldwide by reassuring them that they have the power to overcome life’s adversities. Not only are inspirational quotes by humanitarian Oprah Winfrey inspiring- they can also teach you a few life lessons.

Montana Moore
Photo: Flickr

South Africa’s Transition to SolarDespite having the 33rd largest economy in the world, South Africa ranks among the top 15 countries worldwide in greenhouse emissions, both total and per capita. Currently, the country mostly relies on coal for energy. However, the last decade has seen frequent and lengthy power outages that have convinced South African cities and companies to search for alternative energy sources. South Africa’s transition to solar has already started and both companies and cities strive to be less reliant on the national power grid within the next 10 years.

Ford Motor Company: Solar Car Park

The automotive industry is one of South Africa’s largest sectors, consisting of more than 13% of all exports and employing over 100,000 people. The Silverton Ford factory is among the country’s largest, employing 4,300 people. Due to the unreliability of the power grid, Ford announced its new solar project, named “Project Blue Oval” on November 14, 2020. Ford, in partnership with SolarAfrica, will install a 13.5 MW solar system that will supply about 30% of the plant’s power. It will contain more than 31,000 solar panels and provide coverage for more than 4,000 cars, making it the largest solar car park in the world. Ford will also install other green energy systems in the coming years, with the goal of being completely carbon neutral and off the grid by 2024.

Eskom: South Africa’s Electricity Supplier

South African cities are also transitioning to solar energy. City governments cite the sometimes weeks-long power outages as concerns and worry about the steadily rising cost of electricity. Currently, Eskom supplies most of the country’s power through coal power plants. Eskom is by far South Africa’s largest polluter, accounting for 40% of the country’s greenhouse emissions. Both the Cape province and Johannesburg have plans in place to move away from coal energy. The Northern Cape will complete a photovoltaic solar plant in 2023 capable of producing electricity for roughly 75,000 homes. Johannesburg has not yet committed to a specific plan for a solar or other green energy plant but has expressed interest.

Eskom is currently in $30 billion of debt and the large-scale transition away from the electricity provider will threaten Eskom’s financial stability even more. Eskom has announced on November 8 its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. This will threaten the livelihoods of the 120,000 people who work at its 15 coal plants so the transition will be intentionally slow to lessen economic hardship.

Solar Energy in Agriculture

The agriculture industry is also starting to shift to solar energy. The periodic blackouts affect farmers’ abilities to freeze goods and irrigate crops, among other issues. Power from the grid is also expensive. Sun Exchange is a major player in bringing solar power to farmers across southern Africa. Its funding model of providing free equipment and installations while profiting off the energy usage allows agribusinesses to immediately lower energy costs by 20%. The market for solar energy in agriculture strong. GreenCape, a nonprofit green energy advocate, expects yearly solar market growth of 10% as companies like Sun Exchange continue providing low cost, reliable energy to farmers.

The Future of Solar Energy

The rise of solar and green energy in South Africa has less to do with environmental concern and more to do with issues of cost and reliability. Even energy giant Eskom will eventually switch over to renewable energy in the coming decades. South Africa’s transition to solar energy could make it a leader as the world slowly starts moving to green energy.

– Adam Jancsek
Photo: Flickr

Livestock WealthPoverty in South Africa has historically been linked with the institution of the racial apartheid regime. The national government began to pass segregationist policies in 1948, with racial discrimination policies only officially dismantling in 1994 when South Africa became a democracy and Nelson Mandela stepped into power. Livestock Wealth is a company that introduced South Africa to “crowdfarming” as a means of supporting farmers and alleviating poverty in the country.

Apartheid and Poverty

Under the apartheid regime, the minority-white government passed policies aimed at keeping black South Africans, who made up a majority of the population, from having any meaningful participation in the economy. This left millions trapped in cycles of poverty and the residual effects of such discriminatory policies are still being contended with, in the effort to reduce poverty today.

Apartheid laws confined poor South Africans to rural regions and made the migration to urban areas difficult. The lack of opportunities and social mobility in rural areas made overcoming poverty a challenging task. The legacy of this limited mobility is still present today. South African provinces in rural areas have more households in chronic poverty compared to urban provinces. As of 2015, 25.2% of the population of urban areas lived below the upper-bound poverty line (UPBL), whereas 65.4% fell below the UBPL in rural areas. In order to reduce poverty, it is most important that rural communities receive support and investment.

Livestock Wealth

Livestock Wealth is a startup founded in 2015 by Ntuthuko Shezi which aims to provide investment for farmers in South Africa’s rural areas. Livestock Wealth allows investors from anywhere in the world to effectively purchase from South African farmers four different livestock and crop options: a free-range ox, a pregnant cow, a connected garden or a macadamia-nut tree. When the cows or the crops are sold, both the farmer and the investor receive a share of the profit.

The investment provides liquidity to farmers for whom there is limited availability of short-term funds. Livestock Wealth is currently a credit provider with South Africa’s National Credit Regulator and is registered with the Agricultural Produce Agents Council.

Livestock Wealth currently has 58 partner farmers all across the country and all cows are hormone-free and grass-fed. In recent years, its business has expanded to also provide meat for investors who join the “Farmers Club.” There are currently more than 2,800 investors with Livestock Wealth and more than $4 million has been invested.

Alleviating Poverty in South Africa

Livestock Wealth is a representation of an initiative that has great potential to alleviate poverty in South Africa. South Africa’s rural populations have a long history of exclusion from the economy and have struggled to reduce poverty for decades. Livestock Wealth provides cash investments for farmers and creates a market in which they can reliably trade. By doing so, the firm exemplifies an innovation within the South African economy, one which is helping to alleviate poverty and can inspire others to do the same.

– Haroun Siddiqui
Photo: Flickr