Brand South Africa presented an overview of the organisation and its efforts to encourage competitiveness in Africa at the 2016 Junior Chamber International (JCI) Africa and Middle East Conference, held in Johannesburg from 4 to 7 May 2016. The organisation presented during the conference’s Active Citizenship Workshop on 5 May 2016.
CEO Kingsley Makhubela also gave a keynote address on nation branding and the power of the youth in strengthening the nation brand.The Active Citizenship Workshop, presented by members of JCI Africa, focused on encouraging young people to become partners in progress for socioeconomic development. The aim of the workshop, and the conference itself, was to harness effective youth development practices to engage young people in the active roles they can take to build social cohesion.Delegates included JCI president Paschal Dike of Nigeria, and Tshepo Thlaku, chairman of the 2016 JIC event and president of JCI South Africa.
The BSA presentation highlighted the many strides the country has made in building its reputation in Africa and the world. It also looked at the social and economic advancement of the country through active citizenship and a strong focus on trade and industrial competitiveness.The presentation aimed, in the words of the Brand South Africa slogan, to inspire new ways to motivate other African countries to become storytellers for the continent.
In his keynote address, Makhubela spoke about how young people have the ability and passion to continuously change the world. He used the examples of both the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprisings and last year’s #FeesMustFall demonstrations.”South African youth demonstrated how they could come together and collectively fight for a cause that would change the conditions for millions of young people in our country,” Makhubela said. “Education is a critical enabler for development and equally for national competitiveness. The youth of South Africa did more than just fight for no increases and additional funds, they are fighting for the country’s very development.”Turning to global issues, particularly those affecting Africa and the Middle East, Makhubela said youth power was key to spreading democracy and reducing inequality. “Young people are playing a critical role in raising levels of awareness about the unsustainability of current frameworks and paradigms,” he said.Concluding, Makhubela emphasised that young people must understand that with every right comes a responsibility to change the world without destroying it. He quoted the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for long term growth and development on the continent, which states: “Present generations are confident that the destiny of Africa is in their hands, and that we must act now to shape the future we want.”
Annually, the JCI conference brings together over 1 000 young active citizens, representing more than 50 partner countries from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The attendees participate in a host of inspirational sessions, practical workshops, meetings with important political and economic players, as well as fun social events. These all encourage emerging young talent to share best practices, exchange ideas and determine the future of the organisation and the young people in the regions it represents.
South African women should be fighting for a 100% renewable energy future for our country. A completely renewable energy future will be good for everyone, but it could be particularly good for women.
At the recent South African International Renewable Energy Conference in Cape Town, it was striking that one of the side-events with the most women in attendance was focused on rural electrification. Clearly the need for rural electrification is particularly urgently felt by women.
Global warming is perhaps the ultimate expression of patriarchy. It is one inevitable outcome of a global power structure that has long held men, mostly white wealthy and middle-class men, as the thinking subject while everyone else became, with nature, an exploitable object.
Climate change caused by carbon emissions will hit rural African women first and hardest. For reasons of culture or where men are migrant workers, African women currently bear primary responsibility for food production, and sourcing fuel and water – all of which are threatened by climate change. For this reason, building a renewable energy economy that helps to avert climate change as far as possible is incredibly important.
But even if climate change were not a problem, renewable energy would still be transformative for women’s development.
In the !Kheis municipal area of the Northern Cape, for example, where 70% of people are poor and unemployed, basic solar home power systems have been rolled out. They include three interior lights, an outside security light (a vital contribution to women’s safety), and a radio and cellphone charger. The systems can be upgraded. One woman for every 50 households has been trained to maintain the systems and collect data on how they are used, building community and employment.
Off-grid systems are sometimes considered to be a second-best option—but their users often do not agree. These systems are cheaper to run, and when load shedding hits the wealthier members of the community, the poor are unaffected: “During load shedding, the have-nots have, and the haves have not.”
These systems offer the chance for precise scalability, matching to people’s actual needs, and for real participation and community economic development.
“If you have no lights, you cannot clean at night, so this changes women’s lives totally. It is a totally different community, it gives them back their dignity,” says Teresa Scheepers, the regional municipal manager.
As another conference participant observed, “I have not seen a technology that has such a developmental impact as renewable energy technology.” This is in part because the economic empowerment of women has a multiplier effect, improving health and family outcomes, and laying the foundations for deeper participation in the formal economy.
But it is not just in marginalised rural communities that renewable energy technology offers new opportunities for women. The structure of our current economy—indeed, our society—is deeply linked to the energy sources on which it is dependent.
Fossil fuel companies do not just pollute air and water without penalty, imposing the costs of their dirty business models on the most vulnerable. They also pollute our politics. Countries that are dominated by extractive industries are notoriously more corrupt than those that are not—the so-called “resource curse”. It stands to reason then, that if we wish to reduce corruption—such as ANC kickbacks from companies – we should also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as far as possible. Since women are more vulnerable to the effects of corruption than men (according to a 2008 report by Unifem), this reduction in corruption will bring substantial benefits for women.
As Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance observes, “Clean energy is inherently more local, more distributed, more accountable … the revolution afoot in energy, driven by new technologies and distributed generation, can and should mean a democratisation of social as well as electrical power.” That means that renewable energy development can support African communities and community values, as communities that are embedded in the natural world and do not hold themselves above it, in ways that the technocratic, ruthless capitalism of extractive fossil-fuel energy does not. To put it another way, renewable energy brings us back in touch with the rhythms and cycles and limitations of nature.
Following the #FeesMustFall student protests, South Africans have been asking themselves how the government will fund new commitments to higher education. One possibility is the savings on fossil-fuel imports that could be made if we strengthened our commitment to renewable energy for 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. This would save us an additional R30 billion each year in reduced fossil-fuel imports, according to an analysis by the New Climate Institute. It would also prevent an additional 1 200 deaths due to air pollution; and create an additional 25 000 jobs.
The global energy sector is notoriously male-dominated. Though the emerging renewable energy sector remains notably male-dominated, in many instances it is more open to gender-inclusive practices. In countries like Germany and the UK, women are more visible as industry leaders in the renewables sector than they are in old energy, particularly in Germany’s multitude of community energy companies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance actively seeks to grow the participation of women in the sector.
If women are to benefit from a 100% renewable energy target for South Africa, we must ensure this goal is adopted. We must stand up for renewable energy, whether in business or politics or as consumers. We should lobby those institutions that are intended to represent women, such as the gender commission, to add their voices to this call. We should call on women in politics to stand up for a more democratic and humane national energy policy that will truly benefit women—and everyone else too.
Students at the University of London in United Kingdom wrote a letter to express their unity with the students protesting against high fees in South Africa.
The letter was written by students of the School of Oriental and African Studies on Tuesday. They addressed the letter to the protesting student, staff and their supporters at the Witwaterstrand University‚ the University of Cape Town‚ Stellenbosch University and Rhodes University.
The students of SOAS stated on the letter that they have had similar experiences and have reclaimed their university. They said although they were backing up the protests and shutdowns, they insisted that the violence must stop.
The letter was posted on their Tumblr account.
The letter reads:
To the protesting students, staff and their supporters at the Witswaterstrand University, the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and the university currently known as Rhodes
Yesterday and again today, our Twitter and Facebook feeds have been awash with protesting students from Wits, the UCT, and the university currently known as Rhodes.
After mass protests at Wits led to the still unfulfilled promise of the suspension of fee hikes, UCT, Stellenbosch and Rhodes students took to the streets and likewise demanded that #FeesMustFall. We watched in awe at this mass expression of outrage at the austerity being meted out on South African university students.
Yet it is when police were called in by UCT management and given free reign to shoot students with rubber bullets, that we decided to write this statement of solidarity.
We therefore want to express our full solidarity towards the continued protests and shutdowns by the students and staff of Wits, UCT, Stellenbosch and Rhodes as well as other South African universities that are planning mass protests
The #FeesMustFall and the University must be decolonised and de-corporatised.
The SOAS Student Occupation