Thursday, July 18, 2024

Powering sustainable development in the Southern Africa region


The journey towards sustainable development in Southern Africa has taken a significant turn, as recent developments in the renewable energy sector promise a brighter, cleaner future for the region. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), encompassing countries like Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, is at a critical juncture where the intersection of economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social development is more pronounced than ever. 

A report from OECDiLibrary underscores the critical need for investment in renewable energies to catalyze sustainable development in Southern Africa. The region, characterized by varying degrees of energy access and economic diversification, has seen its fair share of challenges and opportunities in the sustainability sector. This transition is particularly pertinent, given the global crises that have intensified the need for sustainable investment. 

Southern Africa’s economic landscape, shaped by its rich natural resources and growing industrial sectors, is now ripe for sustainable transformation. The region boasts significant renewable energy potential, particularly in solar, wind, and hydropower. According to OECDiLibrary, Southern Africa holds about 60% of Africa’s installed solar energy capacity and 40% of its wind power. This potential, however, remains largely untapped due to various challenges, including the high cost of capital, inadequate regulatory frameworks, and limited funding options.  


The need for a transition to renewable energy is further emphasized by the region’s contribution to carbon emissions. For instance, South Africa’s coal-based economy is a major CO2 emitter on the continent. The renewable energy sector not only offers a path to reducing these emissions but also brings economic benefits, such as job creation. The OECDiLibrary report highlights that renewable energy technologies like solar energy create more jobs in operations and maintenance than fossil fuels. 

The path to realizing this potential involves a dual approach of mobilizing both public and private investments. Public funds have traditionally favoured non-renewable energy, but this trend is changing as investments in renewables, especially solar energy, rise. Private sector involvement is crucial, with mechanisms like public-private partnerships playing a vital role in mobilizing resources for renewable energy projects. For instance, South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has been pivotal in attracting private sector investment. 

Amidst these developments, Impact Africa Consulting Limited (IACL) has emerged as a key player in driving sustainable practices across the African continent. IACL’s recent expansion into Southern Africa, with a new regional office in Lusaka, Zambia, signifies a major leap in the firm’s commitment to advancing sustainability. As stated in their press release, IACL has already made substantial contributions across Africa in sustainability advisory, enterprise support services, and impact assessments. 

IACL’s services are particularly relevant in addressing the challenges faced by the region. The firm’s expertise in capacity building and sustainability strategies aligns well with the needs identified in the OECDiLibrary report, such as strengthening regional cooperation, de-risking private sector investments, and adopting dedicated policies for clean energy access in rural areas.  

Southern Africa faces significant environmental challenges, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. These challenges present a crucial opportunity for organizations like IACL to offer tailored solutions. For instance, IACL’s presence in the region could be instrumental in supporting sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, which are vital for sustainable growth. 

Related article: Firm advances sustainable development in Affrica with new regional footprint in Southern Africa

Addressing the need for sustainable development, the OECDiLibrary report identifies policy priorities for Southern Africa, including strengthening regional cooperation, de-risking private investments, and increasing clean energy access in rural areas. IACL’s role in this landscape could involve leveraging its expertise in developing sustainability strategies and impact assessments to support these policy priorities. 

The vision for Southern Africa’s sustainable future is one where renewable energy not only powers the region but also drives economic growth and social development. Organizations like IACL, with their focus on sustainability advisory and capacity building, are key to this transition. Their role in fostering sustainable practices and supporting private and public sectors is crucial in navigating the complexities of sustainability in today’s global landscape. 

The sustainable development of Southern Africa hinges on a strategic blend of investments, policy initiatives, and the active involvement of firms like IACL. With its rich renewable energy potential and the increasing acknowledgment of sustainability as a core development strategy, the region stands on the cusp of a transformative era. The journey ahead is not without challenges, but with coordinated efforts and strategic partnerships, Southern Africa can harness its potential for a sustainable and prosperous future. 

Solomon Irungu
Solomon Irungu
Solomon Irungu is a Communication Expert working with Impact Africa Consulting Ltd supporting organizations across Africa in sustainability advisory. He is also the managing editor of Africa Sustainability Matters and is deeply passionate about sustainability news. He can be contacted via

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