Billions for green economy, biofuel, biomass production, energy management

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) approved R9,4 billion in funding last year, the second highest amount in the development fund’s history, and IDC executives said they expect to disburse R100 billion by 2015, depending on the outlook of the global economy.

Briefing the National Assembly’s Economic Development Portfolio Committee, Shakeel Meer, the IDC’s divisional executive of industrial sectors, said the corporation was also increasing its focus on green investments, targeting projects in biofuel and biomass production, wind and solar power, energy management and recycling.

The IDC’s 2010 annual report states that it has budgeted about R12 billion for “green energy”. This includes R8,3 billion for renewable energy generation and bioethanol, R1 billion for manufacturing of components related to green industries, and R1,6 billion for energy management.IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena said, “the preliminary results from our research, which cover the solar, biofuels, small hydrosectors and pyrolysis, suggest that up to 300 000 jobs can be created in a 10-year period.

If South Africa is able to capture 2% of the estimated global green economy in the next five years, a significant number of jobs can be created across a diverse range of sectors”.

During the past financial year, the IDC approved funding of R770,5 million for 28 projects toward growth of the agricultural and agro-processing sectors. These investments would facilitate the creation of about 3 133 jobs in the agricultural value chain in South Africa alone. This represents a 105% rise in the value of approvals and a 58% increase in job creation in these sectors compared with the previous year, according to the IDC’s 2010 annual report.

Other areas of focus for growth in investment in the agricultural and agro-processing sectors for the next few years include the development of high value, long-term agricultural crops, the development of the grain and oil seed value chain, rice production in the Southern African Development Community region, support to poor farmers through wholesale arrangements, and the establishment of renewable products/fuels from agricultural feed stock.