21 May 2010
Moving to cleaner energy sources holds enormous opportunities for South Africa’s economy, Economic Development Minister Ibrahim Patel said during the Green Economy Summit in Johannesburg this week.
Speaking on the sidelines of the three-day event at the Sandton Convention Centre, Patel said in order to address huge unemployment challenges in the country, South Africa had a responsibility to explore innovative ways of growing the economy.
“[The] green economy gives us an opportunity to achieve our economic development goals, and it’s something we have to explore,” Patel said.
He said organisations like the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) were ready to finance entrepreneurs who were willing to enter the “green” economy.
The IDC has began to calculate the potential size of the green economy, and Patel said preliminary research covering areas such as solar bio-fuels showed that almost 300 000 jobs could be created by the industry in the next few years.
Patel said South Africa would be learning from countries where the move to a green economy had led to massive job creation.
The green economy sector has attracted more than US$17-billion in China, and more than 1.2-million people are currently employed in the sector. Germany has managed to create about 200 000 jobs using throughput technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
South Africa’s mining industry has also committed to achieving green economy objectives by promoting “responsible” mining that does not leave behind negative environmental impacts.
“I firmly believe that this new approach is a global imperative, not only for sustainable mining but also for sustainable development in general,” said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.
Shabangu said old mining technologies and outdated mindsets towards labour issues had created unnecessary and painful social consequences and environmental damage.
“To avoid these preventable outcomes, we have embarked upon a process of multi-stakeholder engagement involving all role players in our mining sector,” she said.