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Barend Matthee | 28 February 2023

Extended blackouts and relentless loadshedding is crippling essential infrastructure and service delivery in South Africa. In a recent announcement, one of South Africa’s largest telco providers stated they were making the shift from the national power grid and would begin sourcing electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs). This signals the start of a new era in commercial autonomy as essential service providers seek to bypass the effects of loadshedding. By engaging IPPs, businesses with the funding will either establish their own power plants or purchase power directly from them, as South African IPPs are ready to roll out their alternative power generation projects. To date, several have been signed off and are already at various stages of implementation. With a national state of disaster hanging in the balance, timing is critical and the urgency of getting these projects up and running as soon as possible cannot be understated. Here, a Temporary Employment Services (TES) provider can leapfrog unnecessary delays and get IPPs on track toward creating the stable power supply our country so desperately needs.

Impending state of disaster

The South African government is currently considering whether the ongoing energy crisis meets the legal requirements to declare a national state of disaster, as record levels of power cuts continue to hamstring the economy. Fuel stations in remote areas, medical facilities, water supply services, food production and telecommunications have suffered immensely in recent months due to incessant scheduled power cuts. With no decisive action taken to date by the government to rectify the ailing power grid, service providers are having to take matters into their own hands now that regulations within the IPP industry have been eased. Following the example of Central and South America where telco companies use renewable energy to power signal towers in remote areas, such solutions will need to be applied in South Africa, not only to power telecommunications but for critical services as well.

Providing skills and speed

Given the scale and urgency of demand, however, it is unlikely that IPPs have reached a point of maturity where they can step up and meet this deficit, particularly from a labour perspective. Many skills and many hands are required to build the power generation capacity required, and this is where a TES provider would be an ideal partner. With a national footprint and an extensive database of verified skills and labour, a TES provider will help IPPs find and deploy the workforce necessary for the construction, operation, maintenance and repair of renewable power plants. Not only does a TES provider source and place the workforce, but theirs is also an end-to-end employment solution that encompasses the entire administrative burden of managing a large workforce as well as the various compliance considerations required by law. By partnering with a TES provider, IPPs will be able to hit the ground running much faster, overcoming all the usual hurdles involved in projects at scale, and will be able to take on much larger projects which would otherwise have been impossible without the necessary resources.

Saving time through support

In this respect, a TES provider can save a substantial amount of time on IPP projects. During the consultative phase, the TES provider offers invaluable experience from previous similar undertakings for the IPP to leverage, ensuring that all obstacles and delays are swiftly overcome. At the point of execution, the TES partner can provide critical support in the form of budget planning, HR and IR management, as well as safety and strategic advisory. Of central importance is the direct supply of labour, including contingency staffing and recruitment. The TES provider delivers agile support, including contractor-side recruitment, and the fulfilment of local content requirements. Additionally, the TES partner is capable of handling the indirect supply where the IPPs are required to onboard many suppliers within the project ecosystem.

Reducing the administrative burden

With the right TES partner in place, IPPs have access to the proper systems and technology for transparency, traceability and auditable information to support the compliance framework and reporting structures required by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, massively reducing the administrative burden on the IPP. Here, the TES provider plays an inclusive facilitatory role with the experience and infrastructure necessary to support that procurement function - everything from staff medicals, to transport, training, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and staff wellness initiatives. By utilising a TES provider, it becomes possible to achieve labour harmony, as the TES provider also facilitates community and stakeholder engagement, completely handling all elements of human resource management and ensuring the surrounding community benefits properly from job creation, skills development and enterprise and supplier development.

Accelerating the entire project lifecycle

When considered from this perspective, it becomes clear that a TES provider is effectively competent, enabling turnkey operation, playing a pivotal acceleratory role in the journey to get to that empowerment of the IPPs that results in achieving a stable power supply for essential services, much quicker. Furthermore, the faster a project is completed, the faster the TES provider can assist the IPP to get to the next phase, which is longevity development. This is where true economic recovery and progress happen, as the TES provider supports IPPs and local communities as an empowering catalyst that drives economic initiatives to full effectiveness.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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