Can SA be a renewable energy giant? 

Can SA be a renewable energy giant? 

South Africa has the potential to become a renewable energy giant within five years. Opportunities abound in solar, wind power, biomass, green hydrogen, and the manufacture and export of green commodities.

This was the message from Gareth Rees, head of sustainability strategy at Deloitte, in a presentation to almost 300 delegates at the third annual Sustainability Summit Africa, which ran from 6 to 8 June in Johannesburg.

Hosted by Deloitte Africa, the event brought together industry leaders, experts, and professionals to discuss and explore sustainability-related challenges and opportunities.

“The energy transition is real and the world is transforming how it creates energy. Renewables currently make up 5% of the energy in the world. By 2050, this will have changed to 46%,” Rees told attendees. He stressed that this is a moment of inflection for the continent: “We will either rise to the opportunity of climate change or be left behind by it. I am excited by the emerging discussions and the intent from business and civil society to take advantage of these opportunities.”

The conference organiser, Smart Procurement, reports that the Deloitte Sustainability Summit was a resounding success. The presentations covered renewable energy, the circular economy, supply chain sustainability, climate change mitigation, and social impact initiatives. “The event delivered hard-hitting outcomes and actionable insights around industrial innovation, reactive compliance, crisis leadership, and South Africa’s global competitiveness,” said Smart Procurement chief operating officer Debbie Tagg.

Experts discussed how today’s unprecedented age of innovation is driving sustainable business models and addressing pressing environmental and social issues. Billed as Africa’s transformational environment, social, and governance (ESG) conference, the summit explored the past, present, and future of procurement in relation to ESG drives to ensure ethical behaviour and to mitigate organisations’ environmental impact.

Businesses need to escape the reactive compliance trap, expert speakers cautioned, because it hampers efforts to proactively address sustainability challenges. Another key message was that strong leadership is vital in dealing with crises and navigating the path towards sustainability. Rees and other specialists also explored South Africa’s industrial competitiveness for sustainable growth and success on a global scale.

Attendees have commended the value and relevance of the summit. “The discussions were so informative and relevant to what’s happening today,” commented Rose Madela from Hydrogen-Africa. Amu Modau from African Rainbow Minerals praised the calibre of the programme, the world-class expert line-up, and the powerful panel discussions.

“The third annual Sustainability Summit Africa, titled ‘People Planet Purpose’, was fantastic and inspiring. It was a privilege to join my esteemed speakers as we discussed the critical role procurement and supply chain professionals play in tackling the climate crisis, and how we can respond to the challenges the climate crisis presents across Africa,” said Desre Hancocks, ambassador for the South African chapter of the Sustainability Procurement Pledge. “Congratulations to Smart Procurement for organising such a brilliant event.”

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