Just Transition State Secretary Flasbarth travels to South Africa: focus on decent jobs and a just energy transition
Jochen Flasbarth said, “Our future depends on whether we succeed in achieving a socially just and ecologically sound transformation of the economy – not just in Germany but worldwide. Together with the G7 we have therefore established a Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa. We are supporting South Africa’s efforts to make its economic system both climate neutral and socially equitable. Anyone who has earned their money with coal in the past will need new economic prospects. That is our starting point. We want to make climate action into a driving force for sustainable development. This can only be achieved through joint efforts involving every part of society and with even greater contributions from the business sector. Business companies are the driving force behind innovation, they invest in business and create jobs. My prime concern here, however, is creating good jobs with decent working conditions and fair wages. This is an aspect where German companies often lead the way. Innovative and successful approaches for the energy transition like the ones discussed at the German-African Business Summit need to be rolled out on a wider scale.”
The German-African Business Summit (GABS) is Germany’s biggest business event on African soil. Every two years, business and political leaders meet for the GABS in one of Africa’s major cities in order to promote economic relations between Germany and the countries of Africa, and boost cooperation at the company level. The fourth GABS is taking place in Johannesburg from 6 to 8 December 2022. Around 500 African and German participants are expected to attend, including Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck.
After the Summit, State Secretary Flasbarth will have talks about the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa and will visit the coal-fired Komati power station, which has been decommissioned. The plan now is for solar and wind energy installations and a battery storage facility to be built at the former power station. This means that the location will continue to be used for energy generation, and energy-related jobs will be preserved. Together with the US, Great Britain, France and the EU, the German government has agreed a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with South Africa. Thanks to the JETP, up to 1.5 gigatonnes of CO₂ emissions will be prevented in the coming years. Germany is supporting investments in infrastructure for renewable energy with funding that amounts to more than one billion euros. The construction of solar and wind power installations or of transmission lines for green electricity will help create new jobs specifically in coal mining regions. One example here is the site of the former coal-fired Komati power station.
The BMZ has appointed Rainer Baake – previously State Secretary first of all at the Environment Ministry and then at the Economics and Energy Ministry – as its new Commissioner and point of contact for the JETP with South Africa. Baake is also the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s Special Commissioner for the development of green hydrogen in Namibia. These two tasks complement one another, since both South Africa and Namibia will benefit from closer links on energy matters.
Another priority area of cooperation with South Africa is vaccine production: the BMZ is providing more than 550 million euros in total to support the efforts of the African Union and of individual AU member states to establish and develop vaccine and pharmaceuticals production in Africa. South Africa is an important location in this context – for example, due to the mRNA Hub, via which important knowledge for the development and production of vaccines is transferred worldwide.
Only one per cent of German foreign investment currently goes to Africa. Yet that is where the growth markets of the future are to be found. At the same time, the climate crisis is creating huge challenges for African countries. The role of German development policy is to support partner countries in achieving a socially just and environmentally sound transformation of their economic and trade systems, and of their economic structures. To do this, the BMZ is also counting on cooperation with the private sector.