/ 25 November 2011

SA’s green economy could create 460 000 jobs

Greening South Africa’s economy could create 460 000 new jobs by 2025, according to a report released on Friday.

“The experience of several advanced and emerging countries that have been adopting green initiatives point towards an extraordinary opportunity for South Africa as it pursues a job-rich new growth path,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said at the launch of the report in Johannesburg.

The green jobs report was compiled by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), and Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (Tips).

The report estimates that 98 000 new jobs could be created in the short-term and around 255 000 in the medium term.

Long-term, 462 000 employment opportunities could be created in the formal economy.

The greening of the economy could create jobs in the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors.

“As a considerable emitter of greenhouse gases, South Africa faces the challenge of transitioning to a less carbon-intensive growth trajectory without delay,” Patel was reported as saying in a statement issued by the IDC and DBSA.

“In short, our challenge is to use less carbons and more people in our economic growth.”

Employment challenges
Head of IDC’s research and information department and co-author of the report, Jorge Maia, said a greening economy should result in expanded productive capacity.

“This should be progressively supported by investment activity and result in considerable employment creation … the momentum provided by the greening of an economy is being increasingly exploited in countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, China, and Brazil, among many others, especially in light of the employment challenges faced at national level.”

The DBSA’s divisional executive of strategic operations, David Jarvis, said the green economy was complex, new, diverse, and fast-evolving.

“South Africa will be dealing with the progressive and simultaneous introduction of technologies that are being improved, developed, or commercialised … the economic merit of many of these technologies may only be fully established in years to come, opening up opportunities for the establishment of infant industries over time, but placing a requirement on countries to invest now to realise any first-mover advantages,” he said.

The report’s research team looked at four broad types of activities that could create jobs.

These are energy generation, energy and resource efficiency, emissions and pollution mitigation, and natural resource management.

South Africa’s new growth path aims to create five million jobs by 2020, while its national development plan proposes creating 11-million jobs by 2030. — Sapa