Kouga community takes the reins through its development trust

Kouga Wind Farm’s community development trust is helping to foster much-needed local inclusivity and growth through the development of economic infrastructure, says MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mlungisi Mvoko.

Mvoko, who attended the launch of the trust today, celebrated the launch of the Kouga community development trust that has been two years in the making.

The trust is part of the Kouga Wind Farm’s licensing conditions.  The wind farm is in Oyster Bay and includes the communities of Umzamowethu, Sea Vita, Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay, and the Humansdorp’s KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein.

The development trust has been created, as an intimate collaboration, with communities to uplift these areas.

The licensing conditions also prescribe that communities hold at stake in the wind facilities.  In the case of Oyster Bay, the community owns 26% of the facility established in 2015.

As part of the trust strategy, the Kouga Wind Farm community has determined that the biggest focus will be on education and development (25%), followed by welfare and humanitarian initiatives (20%), then arts, culture and sport (15%). 

Enterprise development (10%), healthcare (10%), conservation, environment and animal welfare (10%), and lastly, land and housing (10%) get an equal share.

“The development of the trust has been an interesting process. The community has been given a chance to take a fresh look and identity the assets they already have,” says Boniswa Orleyn, MD of Bophelo Impilo Development Centre, who helped the communities with the process.

“Oyster Bay’s mostly dormant community assets identified for development is currently valued at a whopping R26 million.

These assets should attract investments up to about R300 million over the next five years; R150 million is designated for infrastructure, land and buildings, while R144 million will finance other community development programmes.

Mvoko is delighted with the developments to date and says it is indicative of the catalytic effect of energy infrastructure investments.

To date, the milestones for the trust include the start of an R10 million afterschool programme, the rollout of an R10 million community broadband network, various development projects which are already now underway, a COVID-19 relief programme and the construction of a pedestrian pathway.

“The magnitude of impact through these investments is significant if developments like these are replicated for every energy infrastructure built in the province.  Consider that the province is home to 16 wind farms and one solar farm,” he explains.

Beyond this impact for communities, the energy infrastructure translates into a significant contribution to the province’s energy security. 

“The 32 wind turbines generate about 300 million kilowatt-hours per year of electricity, enough to supply approximately 50,000 average households with electricity annually,” he adds.

“Energy investments in the province represent commitments of R4.6 billion for socio-economic development and R1.2 billion for enterprise development and R7 billion in net income for community trusts.

“In other words, energy investments play a catalytic role in job creation, industrial development and meaningful economic transformation by deepening local inclusion through community trusts and local enterprise development,” he explains.

In the case of the Kouga Wind Farm, Mvoko says it is encouraging that the trust is implementing projects in the beneficiary community from the proceeds of the wind farm.

Mvoko says the project is a testament to the power of collaboration: “We can do so much more if we do it together.” 

He refers to the Independent Power Producers forum that includes the community, municipality and power producers who have worked together to ensure that the wind farm represents a win-win for the wind farm’s stakeholders.