South Africa’s REI4P and SARETEC

Last updated: 3 August 2023

South Africa introduced in 2011 the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P) to stimulate private investment through competitive tenders in wind, biomass, small hydro and other technologies. To date, it has resulted in over 6 GW of new renewables generation capacity, mainly wind and solar. It is estimated that the REI4P has created over 18 000 jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance. Though construction jobs are usually temporary, the programme also includes requirements for local content that are designed to promote local manufacturing of renewable energy components and support skills development for workers over time. Companies have a contractual obligation to support local socioeconomic outcomes over the lifetime of a project (around 20 years), including for education and skills development.

Projects are required to demonstrate 40% South African ownership, which enables knowledge sharing between local developers and foreign operators. In particular, a number of foreign project developers sent a wide array of staff to work in South Africa to cover areas such as negotiations and contract agreements, construction, supply chain development, financing and legal services. Given the limited presence of these specialised skills in South Africa, the implementation of projects led to sizeable levels of knowledge sharing with local firms in the legal, banking, engineering and advisory fields.

Subsequently, in 2015, the government launched the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) to develop local green skills in response to the demand created by REI4P. SARETEC was established at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville campus in Cape Town. The institution offers specialised and accredited training for the renewable energy industry. In particular, its courses are designed to address the skills needs stemming from the REI4P, especially as they relate to the long-term operation and maintenance of projects. A slowdown in the REI4P policy implementation has impeded some progress in recent years, however.

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