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Communities are the foundation of success

11th June 2024


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This article has been supplied by the author and has not been written or solicited by Creamer Media. It may be available only for a limited time on this website.

By Thabang Byl, Buildings Segment Lead at Schneider Electric

American labour leader, Cesar Chavez said: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

The role of communities and subsequent stakeholder partnerships couldn’t be more prevalent in a time when our country faces numerous infrastructure and service delivery challenges. 

The above is also emphasised by the International Energy Association (IEA) report: Empowering people – the role of local energy communities in clean energy transitions which states” “local energy communities, or community-based energy projects, are showing clear benefits across the globe in deploying renewable technologies, improving efficiency, supporting reliable power supply, reducing bills, and generating local jobs.”

Local communities in action

In South Africa, we already have several community-led projects, in partnership with Eskom and local councils, that leverage renewable energy sources and implement energy efficiency systems.

One such community is Clarens in the Free State, which has become the first town in the country where residents manage their own electricity demand during loadshedding. Instead of loadshedding, the town has together with Eskom, implemented load curtailment which requires the community member to reduce demand by 10 to 20%.

Clarens has also implemented smart metering and electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations as well as a diverse spread of small-scale embedded generators (SSEGS). The ongoing strength of the initiative relies heavily on the community’s support and cooperation, and so far, it’s been a resounding success.

Significantly, tourism is major economic driver in Clarens which means the above measures allow businesses, restaurants, and hotels and guesthouses to operate to run business as usual.

What can we therefore learn from community-led projects like Clarens?

• Communities and partner stakeholders can improve energy efficiency by implementing systems that reduce energy consumption while maintaining productivity.

• By engaging local communities, municipalities and utilities can optimise the planning and implementation of energy projects to ensure that it meets the specific needs and aspirations of the people.

The bigger picture

Community-led projects also drive co-creation and inclusivity. It fosters an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and considered in the development process which avoids any potential community detachment and even resistance.

Inclusivity truly represents a collaborative effort that acknowledges the unique context of Africa. It’s about embracing this ethos and understanding its significance. 

At Schneider Electric we recognise the importance of tailored solutions that address the specific needs of South African communities. We also understand that often these community-led projects start small and then gradually expand. In turn, we endeavour to offer a bespoke service that forms an important part of community buy-in and successful implementation. 


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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