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    SA looks to Belgium to help with renewables and green hydrogen

    March 24, 2023 - Amanda Khoza


      President Cyril Ramaphosa has told Belgium that South Africa is actively seeking investment in the energy sector, with a particular focus on renewables and green hydrogen.

      This is to address the country's energy crisis.

      Speaking during an SABelgium business forum in Pretoria on Thursday, Ramaphosa told business leaders that Belgium was well positioned to help SA as this was an "area it was good at".

      "We are on a path to revolutionise our energy sector in pursuit of lowcarbon, climateresilient development, and are actively seeking investment in the energy sector with a particular focus on renewables and green hydrogen.

      "Belgium has a proven track record in developing and implementing innovative renewable energy solutions. Together, we can create sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions that benefit both countries," said Ramaphosa.

      He added that a global and just energy transition requires multilateralism in dealing with climate change.

      "We are concerned at the effect of unilaterally introduced measures, such as the proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism that will affect exports of products from the global south. We look forward to working with Belgium to address these concerns," he said, adding that climate change was one of the most critical discussions during the meeting.

      The Sunday Times reported that SA was looking abroad for assistance to resolve loadshedding.

      Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa confirmed that he met the Chinese ambassador to discuss possible collaboration to end the rolling blackouts, including sourcing technical expertise; demandside management intervention as it relates to supply; training young people to meet demands for solar power installations; the introduction of microgrids; and emergency power.

      "It is not a bias to this or that country but it is also important to know that China has had this problem before," Ramokgopa said, adding that SA is in conversation with several countries, including Canada.

      "We are speaking to the Germans, Americans, World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and of course we met the Chinese ambassador, and it's essentially to know, of all of these countries, where the expertise is, and where can we get the quickest assistance."

      Ramokgopa will meet the Vietnamese ambassador because that country has dealt with blackouts before.

      Meanwhile, Ramaphosa told the Belgians that by working together, the two nations can create a value chain that would be mutually beneficial and which could lead to job creation and economic growth.

      During their discussions, the two leaders identified ways to reinvigorate and boost trade and investment relations as well as in cultural and social areas.

      SA's overall trade has exceeded the R100bn mark for the first time since the Covid19 dip.

      "SA and Belgium have vibrant, diverse and growing economies, and there is a wealth of opportunities for businesses looking to expand into new markets," said Ramaphosa.

      Ramaphosa said Belgium was a leading European nation with a strong presence in global markets, particularly in sectors such as technology, healthcare, renewable energy, ports and logistics.

      "Belgium's central location in Europe, excellent transport links and highly skilled workforce make it a gateway to the EU market," he said, adding that it was up to both nations to take their relationship to the next level.

      Ramaphosa said he wants to see more markets and routes for the country's agricultural goods, products and services in Belgium. He said there are several areas where the two countries can collaborate and create mutually beneficial opportunities, including the agricultural sector, climate change and water.

      "There are significant investment opportunities between our two countries in energy, particularly renewable energy, infrastructure, and healthcare." He said SA has ambitious plans to modernise its infrastructure by investing in the expansion of ports, and rail and road networks.

      He conceded that over time there had been a decline in the capability of South Africa's ports and rail. "We are working to turn that around," he said.

      He told the gathering that mutually beneficial partnership is about trade and investment and not about benevolence or charity.

      "It is about doing business in a favourable climate that leads to economic growth, job creation and prosperity for both countries," he said.

      King Phillipe thanked Ramaphosa for the warm welcome on their first state visit on the African continent.

      "Today we are rekindling our economies after the devastating Covid19 pandemic, skyrocketing inflation and global concerns about the availability and sustainability of energy and other resources."

      King Philippe said at the heart of this cooperation lay shared values, sovereignty, freedom, respect and basic human rights for all.

      He said South Africa's and Belgium's democracies were fought for by generations of citizens and "Nelson Mandela's long walk will never end".

      "These values that we share are increasingly under attack in today's world but our objectives remain."

      He pledged Belgium's support in both the private and public sectors to improve living conditions in South Africa.


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