Taken from http://www.southafrica.info
by Chris Bathembu

The launch forms part of a R20-million investment by Sasol to establish five integrated energy centres in poor areas identified by the government as part of its Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Plan.

Other centres have been launched in the Limpopo, Northern Cape and North West provinces.

It is one of the areas in the Eastern Cape where electricity has not reached every one – locals still rely on traditional forms of energy such as paraffin and wood and have to travel long distances to access gas and other forms of energy.

The Qunu Integrated Energy Centre, a co-operative owned by members of the community representing about 18 villages, will provide products such as paraffin, diesel, petrol, gas and gas burner stoves in the community. At least 50 short-term employment opportunities have been created, while more than 10 permanent employment opportunities are foreseen.

"What gives me even greater pleasure is that people from this village will no longer have to travel kilometres in order to buy two litres of paraffin or six candles," Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said at the launch of the centre last week.

Forty-two-year-old Nolusapho Mandlana has been involved in the project since it was first mooted in February last year and says it has changed her life. "For us, it has always been a struggle for our people to access the most basic energy products, so we are very happy to finally see the project taking shape because it will assist a lot," Mandlana said.

"The roll out of the IEC programme is one of the vehicles that the department has embarked upon to contribute to rural development and the fight against energy poverty," she said.

Sasol Oil chairman Maurice Radebe said the company's long-term goal was to fund such centres in all nine provinces of South Africa.

"Our plan is to penetrate every area that has been identified to be in need of this service and we are hoping the success we have seen in other existing centres will serve as encouragement to us and our partners," Radebe said.

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