South African mining consultancy SRK Consulting has compiled and Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) that is being utilised to help increase the speed and efficiency in electricity projects across the region of Southern Africa. Specifically, the framework accelerates the screening process prior to commencing a project.
Reports in recent years have indicated that Africa currently suffers from a gap of $100 billion when it comes to investment in infrastructure, and the power sector is amongst those left the most wanting. A number of projects are currently underway to improve connectivity and distribution, although the process is slow.
The current power grids on the continent, particularly in Southern Africa, lack the capacity to support contemporary development, and are in dire need of enhancements. The mapping and screening of these grids in order to ensure their development is sustainable is often a primary cause for delay in their development.
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) is one organisation that has been looking to facilitate improvements to power grids across the region, and has recognised the importance of accelerating the screening process to optimise development. To this end, SAPP commissioned SRK Consulting in 2016 to develop and ESMF that would allow for faster alignment of project details with lender demands.
The firm has been active in supporting the mining sector of South Africa through its turbulent period, and has received praise and recognition for its reporting abilities. SRK Consulting has now developed the tool, which will be leveraged across countries in the Southern African Development Community.
The report has been developed in three stages. The first involved initial interactions with numerous environmental and social stakeholders, while the second stage consisted of the development of recommendations in accordance with the information obtained. The third stage was the ratification of the report by SAPP officials.
Commenting on the report, Daryll Kilian, Partner and Principal Environmental Consultant at SRK Consulting said, “ This framework is particularly relevant where project loans are required from international financial institutions that apply policies, standards and guidelines to safeguard environmental and social sustainability.”
“The SAPP utilities and IPPs will be responsible for the on-the-ground implementation of the ESMF, and they will be the main users of the framework. As member utilities and IPPs are also represented on the SAPP Environmental Sub-Committee (ESC), they will report back on the application of the ESMF – to ensure alignment in the screening and scoping of priority power projects,” he added.