March 2020.

Matla A Bokone Solar, situated in the Sol Plaatje Municipality, near Kimberley in the Northern Cape, commenced its Commercial Operations earlier this year, having reached full grid code compliance on 20 February 2020.

Previously known as Droogfontein Solar 2, this solar facility is 100% South African owned, a significant positioning for renewable energy projects in South Africa and proof that the green power sector is an attractive option for local investors.

Over its 20-year operations period, the Project will ensure participatory inclusion of local communities in the design and implementation of Socio-economic and Enterprise Development initiatives.

Nomzamo Landingwe, Chief Community Operations Officer for Matla A Bokone Solar explained, “The project was originally known as Droogfontein 2 Solar. Following an extensive community activation campaign, the facility has been renamed Matla A Bokone Solar, a unique Setswana name, referring to the ‘power of the Northern Region’.”

The 75MW solar PV plant, which commenced construction in October 2018, has over 260 000 solar panels installed and is expected to generate 180 000 MWh of much-needed green energy each year. The 200-hectare plot of land, on which the plant is constructed, Droogfontein No.62, is leased from Droogfontein CPA community.

Over 450 people from the local beneficiary communities were directly employed on the project during construction. This is in addition to the employment created through the contracting out of various services.

During its 20-year operations, the solar plant will benefit a large number of communities, spread throughout the Sol Plaatje area, through various Economic Development programmes. These programmes are aimed at building economic and social resilience, as well as increasing access to the local economy. These communities include Barkly West, Riverton, Kimberley, Kimberley Central, Greenpoint, Galeshewe, Roodepan, Platfontein, Holpan, Delportshoop, Windsorton, Ritchie, and Boshof.

Although economic development funding officially commences once the solar plant begins its 20-year operations period, Matla A Bokone Solar chose to implement early beneficiary programmes to begin community support as soon as possible, through extra-ordinary funding. This included an Enterprise Development Programme that funded local SMME’s.

The mentoring and coaching programme also included a quantity surveying service to these small local businesses, aiming to help bring about business behavioural changes through training and upskilling. Beneficiaries of the programme included sixteen Black-owned SMME’s, four of which are women-owned.

Matla A Bokone Solar, is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.