For the past 95 years, State-owned power utility Eskom has been at the forefront of contributing positively towards fighting the country’s socioeconomic challenges through the Eskom Development Foundation.
The foundation, a nonprofit organisation solely funded by Eskom, has launched many corporate social investment (CSI) programmes in response to its mandate to improve the quality of life for people in communities primarily where Eskom operates, and to grant support based on the needs of the communities.
In addition, the foundation’s focus is mainly on supporting government’s developmental objectives and fostering educational awareness programmes within communities nationally. Enterprise development, the environment, food security and agriculture are also core focus areas for the Eskom Development Foundation, with a particular emphasis on healthcare, and social and community development, where the need is most felt.
As a State-owned company entering its ninety-fifth year, Eskom continues to play a pivotal role in national and regional development. Providing reliable and affordable electricity is not only a commercial undertaking, but a necessity that brings opportunity and prosperity, meeting the requirements of South Africa’s Constitution.
For instance, on June 12, 2012, Godidi Village residents, in the Eastern Cape, celebrated the opening of a new electricity substation, bringing electricity connections to over 15 000 rural households.
As a corporate citizen, Eskom’s role goes beyond the basic supply of electricity. Through the Eskom Development Foundation, the organisation’s indirect impact on the economy is also significant. This is achieved by creating opportunities for small businesses to become Eskom suppliers, a strategy that has created job opportunities and seen previously unemployed people becoming active participants in the economy.
This contribution to society has resulted in about 7.5% of South Africa’s gross domestic product being attributed directly to Eskom’s social investment initiatives.
Eskom’s contributions include assisting with the development of road, rail, telecommunication, sewerage and other infrastructure that is required to support major projects.
Moreover, Eskom plays a pivotal role in educating the future technologists required to ensure that Eskom’s operations continue to add value to South Africans.
In 1988, Eskom approved its first community development project, providing talented black students with bursaries to study engineering. It was the beginning of Eskom’s long involvement in education initiatives which remain a key focus of Eskom’s CSI programme.
Further, the Eskom Contractor Academy has, since its inception in 2008, trained 1 141 people with a pass rate of 97%. The academy gives contractors/suppliers training that helps them grow their businesses and contribute to building their local economies. More than half (51%) of the trained contractors/ suppliers were black youth and 40% were black women. To date, 623 contracts worth R2.6-billion have been awarded to companies that graduated from the academy.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are further assisted through the Foundation’s Business Investment Competition (BIC). The national competition identifies and rewards SMEs that have been in operation for two years or longer and inspires them to do more to contribute to the fight against unemployment and poverty.
The BIC works in conjunction with the three-day Small Business Expo, which provides SMEs with a platform to showcase their businesses, network, meet potential customers, investors and suppliers. In November last year, the BIC won a Silver Award in the Community Development and Welfare category at the American Chamber of Commerce Stars of Africa.
Eskom has been the headline sponsor of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists (EEYS), enabling thousands of scholars yearly to showcase their creativity and innovation in science and technology in numerous fields of study. The success of the EEYS has been tremendous, allowing hundreds of young innovators to compete and win awards on international stages.
Among other notable interventions, 244 785 mathematics and science learners and educators have benefited from capacity building programmes, resources and educational materials and equipment. Nearly 523 organisations have benefited from grants and donations around Eskom’s New Build projects and areas where Eskom has large infrastructure, and 31 rural school infrastructure projects have been completed.
As Eskom celebrates 95 years of service, the focus on supplying electricity to those who need it and launching programmes that change lives for the better will remain at the core of Eskom’s activities. Four generations have been a part of Eskom’s journey and many more will benefit in the years to come.