China’s wind power project in S. Africa benefits local community


CAPE TOWN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — At 6:30 a.m. every morning in De Aar, a small town more than 750 km northeast of Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa, Deswin Basson would stand at the door of his house in the cold wind, waiting for his colleagues to pick him up and drive him to work at a substation more than 20 km away.


Although getting up so early is not always fun, the 27-year-old local is full of enthusiasm every day. Deswin works at the substation of Longyuan South Africa Renewables (Pty) Ltd.’s (Longyuan SA) De Aar Wind Power Project.

He told Xinhua that it was the project that changed his life. “I honestly believe that, without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today or where I am today,” he said.

The wind power project is located near De Aar in Northern Cape Province of South Africa, which has an abundant wind source. The project was completed and put into operation in 2017 by Longyuan SA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Energy Investment Group’s (CHN Energy) China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Ltd. (Longyuan Power), with a total investment of about 2.5 billion RMB (343 million U.S. dollars) and a total installed capacity of 244.5 MW.

In addition to continuously supplying the local community with about 760 million KWH of stable and clean electricity every year, the company has spared no effort to fulfill its social responsibility as an overseas Chinese enterprise, providing help to the local people.

For instance, it donates over 4.5 million rand every year (about 236,100 dollars) to a scholarship program, which to date has funded 112 South African college students to finish their studies.

Deswin is one of them. “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to become an engineer,” he told Xinhua. He did well academically in high school, but his unemployed parents could not afford the tuition.

Just when he was about to give up on his studies, Longyuan Power, which entered South Africa at that time, sponsored him to continue his studies with the scholarship program. Thanks to that, he was admitted to a university in 2019.

After graduating from university, Deswin officially joined Longyuan SA in April last year, and became a member of its operation and maintenance team.

So far, the wind power project has created more than 700 local jobs and helped improve the living standards of local people.

In De Aar, a very distinctive bus can often be seen cruising the streets, attracting a large number of people wherever it goes.

That is the 4-million-rand “mobile clinic” — a professional medical bus purchased by Longyuan SA in 2020. The bus is equipped with complete medical equipment and professional medical personnel, providing high-quality yet free health care to 9,000 local residents every year, including general examinations, dental and eye medical services.

Dental practitioner Teboho Mpotle, who has worked on the medical bus for nearly four years, said: “You will also be surprised that, when it comes to month’s end, we park the bus like next to the shopping center in town, a lot of people from other areas … they just flock to the bus.”

According to a middle school girl named Sharone Oliphant, the medical bus has brought great benefits to the local community. “We go to the mobile clinic because it’s convenient … and most importantly, it’s free,” she said.

Sharone also goes to a spacious football field for training every day after school. The field was also supported by funds from Longyuan SA. The Chinese firm renovated the dilapidated De Aar stadium in 2021, with a total investment of about 9 million rand (472,100 dollars). The company has also sponsored more than 40 men’s football clubs and 13 women’s football clubs, benefiting more than 900 athletes in total.

Lesley Condile, an elderly man who was watching Sharone and her teammates playing football on the field, told Xinhua: “This sports facility has not only brought happiness to the local kids, but also kept them busy; kept them from such bad things as drugs and crime … we are very grateful.”

In addition to the scholarship program, mobile clinic and sports stadium, Longyuan SA has also funded four preschools, two nursing homes for the elderly, as well as a ground water project.

Disang Moladle, municipal manager of Emthanjeni Municipality which comprises De Aar and two other towns, spoke highly of the Longyuan De Aar Project.

When talking about the upcoming summit of BRICS that comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, he said, “We would really love you (China) to share the best methods and technology with other BRICS nations.” 

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