International Partners Launch Regional Wind Association for SADC

08.10.2019; Cape Town, South Africa
Today saw the launch of Wind SADC, the regional wind association for the Southern African region, helping countries and companies benefit from this renewable, economically attractive energy source that has grown rapidly in South Africa. The collaborative effort between the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) will create a non-profit industry body which will work across sixteen countries to ensure wind power is fully utilised in the journey towards universal access to sustainable energy services in Southern Africa – while boosting jobs, skills and economic development.
Southern Africa simultaneously has a very high number of people without access to sustainable energy services and superb endowments of renewable energy resources – including solar, wind[i] and hydro. Wind and solar seem set to anchor the global energy transition[ii]. In South Africa, wind power has since 2012 seen 22 operational windfarms installing 2 078 MW connected to the national grid with more than 900 wind turbines spread out over three provinces. Wind power now supplies 52% of SA’s renewable at a cost of 33% of the renewable energy bill[iii]. Many countries in the SADC region have similar potential and would benefit from an industry body to ensure that wind power is fully utilised.
WIND SADC will promote wind energy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) by acting as an umbrella body to its members, including industry associations from the wind sector in SADC countries. The wind industry has the opportunity to be a major player in powering Africa’s growth, creating new jobs and building local supply chains[iv]. Broader socio-economic benefits can be expected: across renewable technologies in South Africa, local communities have already benefited from over R1 billion spent by IPPs on education such as upskilling of teachers, extra teachers and classrooms, and 600 bursaries to students from disadvantaged communities, the provision of health facilities and medical staff, social welfare such as feeding schemes, support to old age homes and early childhood development and support to and establishment of more than 1 000 small enterprises. The renewable energy sector is currently four times more employment-intensive than SA coal and nuclear[v].
The electricity grids in several SADC countries are modest and would not attract renewable energy players on their own. A regional approach however opens up the potential of the entire SADC and helps foster information sharing, builds visibility and coherence, and ensures that all the countries in the Southern African region – no matter the size of their wind energy industries – benefit from wind energy’s potential. This while sharing the cost of an association across the region. The association will work to improve the regulatory and policy frameworks in countries in the region, helping to enhance the business environment and develop capacity. Moreover, the new association acts as the central interlocutor to help tap into additional finance for energy and development in the region.
Speaking at the launch of the association, Head of Energy Division at the African Union Commission Mr Atef Marzouk emphasised the importance of regional collaboration on energy across the continent: “The launch of WIND SADC supports regional integration and economic cooperation – within the industry and beyond. It strengthens trade between member states, supporting our ambitious goal towards an African Continental Free Trade area as outlined in the AU Agenda 2063. Importantly, it also helps build energy capacity, unlock economic development and collaboration between countries in energy.”
CEO Ntombi Ntuli explained that the South African Wind Energy Association would contribute existing capacity and experience: “Having an established office for more than 8 years and having been the custodian of explosive industry growth in South Africa, we will support Wind SADC with back office services and the lessons learnt over almost a decade. We look forward to contributing to regional growth.”
Speaking of its role in supporting the Association, GWEC CEO Ben Backwell emphasised that Wind SADC fits extremely well with GWEC’s stated aim of accelerating the deployment of wind energy in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing private sector investment in the sector: “With our members’ support we have been working on this topic for some time and formed an Africa Task Force in early 2019 to find the best ways of doing exactly what Wind SADC will now tackle in the SADC. We fully support the effort and will bring our global experience, data and policy expertise to bear to facilitate success.”
Kuda Ndhlaukula, Executive Director of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) welcomed the move towards creating additional, technology-specific capacity: “In driving towards universal access to sustainable energy as well as a secure energy system in a landscape of rapidly improving renewables energy technologies, we welcome this opportunity to join forces with experts in the international and local wind energy field.”
The association was launched with the support of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership, a high-level framework for strategic dialogue on energy between Africa and Europe. The Head of the AEEP Secretariat, Johan van den Berg, underlined the value of regional and bi-continental partnerships: ”The launch of WIND SADC is an example of how pooling our resources and efforts enables us to better address challenges. By acting together we are more than the sum of our parts. We intend to expand such interventions both into other technologies and other African regions, together with key regional and international partners.”
The launch took place during the 9th Windaba (Cape Town, 8-9 October 2019), the leading conference and exhibition for wind energy stakeholders active on the African continent. This year’s conference focused on “Unleashing renewable power for African economic development”. Each year the conference brings together more than 600 conference delegates and industry exhibitors. Windaba is hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and provides the most relevant and current wind sector information to strengthen the African wind industry.

The Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is a long-term framework for strategic dialogue between Africa and the European Union, which delivers on shared political priorities, supports key institutions, maps and monitors ongoing collaboration, and facilitates knowledge exchange on key energy issues and challenges in the 21st Century. Established in 2007 as one of the partnerships of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the AEEP works to improve access to secure, affordable and sustainable energy, with a special focus on increasing investment in energy infrastructure in Africa. The AEEP’s work is guided by its Steering Group, comprising the African Union, COMESA, Egypt, the European Union, Germany and Italy.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is a member-based organisation that represents the entire wind energy sector. The members of GWEC represent over 1,500 companies, organisations and institutions in more than 80 countries, including manufacturers, developers, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies. GWEC works at the highest international political level to create a better policy environment for wind power. GWEC and its members are active all over the world, educating local and national governments and international agencies about the benefits of wind power.
The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) is an industry association representing the Wind Energy Industry in South Africa. The members include both national and international actors who are active in the entire Wind power supply chain. Their aims are: to promote the sustainable use of commercial wind power in South Africa; to contribute knowledge and time to the development of policy and regulatory frameworks for wind in SA; to facilitate synergy between the growth of the industry and the achievement of the broader socio-economic aims of Government (including local economic development, training, job creation and rural development); to disseminate information relevant to Wind power supply; to act as a focal point for discussion between members, government, media and the public.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) was established by the SADC Member States in 2015 to contribute towards increased access to modern energy services and improved energy security across the SADC Region through the promotion of market-based uptake of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficient (EE) technologies and energy services. The SACREEE Secretariat is based in Windhoek, Namibia.
[i] GWEC estimates, given strong regulatory regimes, the commercial potential in the SADC by 2030 at 9,000 MW outside South Africa and a similar amount inside, totalling about 30% in installed capacity of the present South African Power Pool
[ii] REN21, Global Status Report 2019. Here
[iii] SAWEA
[iv] GWEC, Global Wind Report 2018. Here.