Tsitsikamma Wind Farm Trust (TWFT) hosted a ceremony on 20 April 2022 to hand over five key projects to the AmaMfengu community on behalf of the Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm (TCWF) in Tsitsikamma, Eastern Cape as part of their drive to empower the local community. Cennergi (Pty) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exxaro Resources, is the majority (75%) shareholder within the TCWF.
Cennergi established TWFT to implement and manage socio-economic development and enterprise development projects to empower and improve the quality of life within local communities. However, the projects could not be handed over at the time of their completion due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
The first project to be handed over was the restoration of 25 houses in Wittekleibos, which were posing health and safety risk to the occupants due to their dilapidating condition and asbestos roofs. The TWFT approved the renovation of these houses to the value of R8.3-million.
The second project was the construction of a new Snyklip Community Hall. In 2019, the Snyklip Area Management Committee, submitted a request to the Trust to demolish and rebuild their community hall, which is used for gatherings, church services, funerals, and celebratory events. The TWFT approved the reconstruction of the hall as well as an early childhood development centre as part of the new design which aided the training of teachers in the community.
The third project was the NNT women’s poultry initiative. In 2018 four women collectively applied for the Trust to fund their idea of starting a poultry project in Wittekleibos. The project construction started in 2020 and was completed in September 2021. Since 2022 the group supplies one of the largest egg producers in the region, Quantum Foods, through the use of transport vehicle provided as part of the financial grant support.
The fourth project was the Wittekleibos Development Trust (WDT) farmer support. The WDT represents 152 families in Wittekleibos who own the Dennegeur Dairy Farm. The Tsitsikamma Wind Farm Trust provided two centre pivots to the value of R2-million to enable more efficient production of cattle feed, and hence securing profitable and sustainable participation in the commercial market.
The fifth project is the Wittekleibos Vegetable Tunnels. The project is owned by three community members with a passion for crop farming. The Trust approved the project’s proposal from the idea stage and is the supplier for the early childhood development centres’ nutrition programme. Total project cost to date is R1.8-million.
Helping a community develop
“At Cennergi, we do not only serve an expanding energy market, but we also strive to build real value for our people, the environment, economy and our shareholders. We will continue to power progress and serve the communities we operate in, doing everything we can to uplift and empower our fellow South Africans,” says Danie du Plessis, Cennergi CEO.
“The AmaMfengu community contends with a terrible legacy of land dispossession, which saw the community being forcibly removed from their land in 1977 and sent to Keiskammahoek, which is about 450km away.
Community members lost everything, including their livelihoods. Since returning to their land in 1994 after a successful land restitution claim, the community has long sought to rebuild their fractured lives. It’s been a long, arduous process. The scars of the past are still visible. For this reason, Cennergi works closely with the community to improve their standard of living through sustainable empowerment,” said du Plessis.
To ensure transparency and community participation, Cennergi founded the Tsitsikamma Wind Farm Trust (TWFT) to implement the socio-economic development (SED) and enterprise development (ED) programme on behalf of Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm (TCWF). The TWFT allows for ordinary community members to submit project requests for funding by the Trust, hence the four projects that are now being handed over to the community.
The AmaMfengu community is a special stakeholder group within the project. It is not only a beneficiary community but also a 9% shareholder within the project and a landowner. The shareholding is under the Tsitsikamma Development Trust, which is a leadership body of the AmaMfengu communities.
Cennergi, a diversified independent power producer (IPP), owns and operates two wind farms in the area – the Amakhala Emoyeni and Tsitsikamma Community Wind farms. Both projects have a 20-year power purchase agreement with state power utility Eskom. These IPPs are key towards helping Exxaro Resources’ transition to a low-carbon future with the use of renewable energy solutions, which will help alleviate the negative effects of climate change across the mining company’s operations.
In addition to being a pioneer in the renewable energy sector, Cennergi is heavily invested in the socio-economic development of the area. Overall, the company and its shareholder, Exxaro Resources believes that the growth of the country is inextricably linked with the upliftment of the communities it operates in.