Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has assembled a powerful team of executive and non-executive directors, associates and alliance partners who share a commitment to stimulating sustainable development processes, practices and reporting interventions in the mining and associated industries.
The primary goal of Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development is to contribute to the socio-economic development of Southern Africa. Since its founding in 2010 Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has aligned itself to the principles of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa, focusing its efforts on implementing sustainable development strategies in communities affected by commercial mining operations. Over time Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has diversified its work to include greenfield projects, the turn-around of underperforming projects and Small Medium, Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the mining, renewable energy and agricultural sectors. Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has a footprint in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.
Socio-Economic Development (SED) can be considered as a collection of programmes, projects or interventions that uplifts the social and/or economic position of our communities and through this process provides access to the economy for our beneficiaries. We therefore use the analogy of “teaching our communities to fish”. Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development therefore focusses its efforts on imparting skills and developing the access to markets and the workplace. When these aspects are met the outcomes are thus sustainable and financially viable enterprises.
Going ‘glocal’: working with global partners in local contexts
Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has fully embraced goal 8 of the MDGs (global partnerships for development) and is a member of the Global Environmental Facility (the GEF) Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Network. Through this membership Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has established a partnership with Southern African CSOs in implementing the GEF mandate to enable global benefits to be realised. The GEF is the largest funder of projects focused on delivering global environmental benefits, uniting 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, CSOs, and the private sector. GEF focuses mainly on issues of land degradation, sustainable forest management, biodiversity, climate change (mitigation and adaptation), international waters, land degradation, chemicals and waste as well as on promoting the rights and privileges of indigenous peoples.
Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development also aims to promote and work within the ambit of international conventions such as: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Aligning its work to MDG 3 (promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women) and MDG 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has recently embarked on energy provision projects with the beneficiaries being rural communities, women and youth. Rural solar electrification has been successful in most of Africa but the cost factor still remains a challenge in South Africa.
In order for off-grid solar solutions to be successful in South Africa they need to deliver a commercial benefit, drive behavioural change in energy usage and target the elimination of fatalities caused by shack fires. In response to these challenges Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development initiated the “Energy4All” programme with the key objective of developing SMMEs that will be able to market, sell, install, service and maintain solar energy products. The pilot project was funded by the Global Environmental Facility’s (GEF) small grants programme, which is administered by the UNDP. In its pilot phase Energy4All offered three days’ training in solar electrification to emerging entrepreneurs with the aim of equipping them with the business and technical skills to be able to successfully roll out their own solar electrification project. It also gathered ideas from participants to use in addressing commercial and technical problems associated with rural solar electrification. In future participants will be given the opportunity to scope, design and implement their own rural solar project, with additional post-training support being given by Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development.
Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has recently been appointed by a consortium of companies with a 27MW wind farm facility in the Eastern Cape to manage the entire Corporate Social Investment (CSI) contributions and resultant projects for several communities surrounding the wind farm. Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development aims to engage with the World Bank and the GEF and use this as a flagship project. “We have extensive experience in the mining sector, and we are applying all these learnings to avoid making mistakes in the embryonic stages of the renewable energy sector of South Africa,” says Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development’s, MD Harvey Keown.
Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development believes that increased inequality, exclusion and uneven development are a real danger for the economies of African countries. Its work in the development and energy sectors aims at transformation and change by providing rural communities with access to electricity as well as the skills to start their own solar electrification businesses. This work also has the potential to promote gender equality with many research studies having shown that women, given the correct support, become the pillars of any community. In the case of Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development’s solar electrification project it is anticipated that women will become the main drivers of expansion and replication projects, especially in deep rural communities in South Africa where the men seek employment far from home, e.g. in the mines.
Despite some successes and a plethora of policies, strategies and programme interventions at both the MDG and in-country levels, entrenched gender inequalities persist in Southern Africa, acting as a deterrent to growth, economic development, employment creation and poverty eradication. In order to focus on gender as a driver for transformational change, Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development is constantly in the processes of refining its comprehensive gender strategy.
Driving the winds of change
With reference to the MDGs, in all of its work Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development has embraced the principles of gender equality and empowerment of women. Through its recent affiliation to the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development aims to do this even more strongly than before. Its values and work have been acknowledged by Ms. Lorena Aguilar who heads the Global Gender Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based in Washington DC: “We have appointed Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development – Mozambique to manage the validation process of the Mozambique’s Climate Change and Gender Action Plan (ccGAP:Mz). We were very impressed with the methodology and working values of the organization, especially its stakeholder engagement processes.”
One of the main challenges that Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development hopes to address in its future work is that of taking small projects to scale. To this end, Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development works on a “shareware model” and all the training material and intellectual property is available for re-use on the basis that the receiving parties further improve and enhance the material and therefore contribute to a greater impact going forward.