Driving inclusive and long-term growth for South Africa starts with participation and collaboration, according to Johan Meyer, executive head of Projects and Technology at Exxaro. “Businesses solely focused on profit without purpose are not developing the country or their communities”, writes Meyer in a recent Thought Leadership article. He encourages big business to work together to invest in projects that will drive job creation in South Africa.
Johan Meyer, executive head of Projects and Technology at Exxaro. Image: Serufe Investments
Meyer sites Exxaro’s investment commitment, successful implementation of projects, and strategic public-private partnerships (PPPs) as cases in point. He writes, “In 2019, we committed R20 billion to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive for the country at the South African Investment Conference (SAIC). This commitment is geared towards developing our coal mining operations and renewable energy investment in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Eastern Cape. These projects will generate the required cash flow to not only sustain and grow the business but also to unlock value for our stakeholders, including host our communities.
“Excluding the proposed Thabametsi independent power producer (IPP) project, which was cancelled due to no IPP investment, our revised investment is around R17.5 billion. To date, we have spent R13-billion of this, about 75% of our committed value. R7.4 billion has gone towards projects that have been completed, including the Dorstfontein West Expansion project, Leeuwpan Lifex Extension, Grootegeluk New Rapid Load Out Station (GGNRLOS), Mafube Life Extension, and Belfast Implementation.”
Thousands of direct and indirect employment opportunities have been created through these projects, not to mention the positive impact, through Enterprise and Supplier Development, on local black-owned, black-woman-owned, and black-youth-owned businesses. “All these initiatives drive the purpose of powering better lives for people. From a presidential perspective, Exxaro is creating hope for South Africa by delivering growth projects that can sustain the country in the long run,” notes Meyer.
Meyer urges more businesses to follow suit and invest, stating that, “For those who are reluctant to invest, we need to prioritise ethical leadership to form a foundation of trust. Citizens and businesses need to believe in and trust South Africa’s leadership so much so that they know the private sector and government can join hands to run the country ethically.” He suggests forming partnerships with government agencies and other private-sector companies to share expertise, and together drive projects that will drive growth, citing the Exxaro partnership with Tata Power as a case in point, which resulted in the Exxaro acquisition of Cennergy, which in turn created value in the renewable energy sector.
“However, committing to investments and PPPs and following through are two different things. Companies need to put their money where their mouths are and execute their plans. Consequence management is important as it shows businesses what happens when they do not deliver on their promises, and more so, when they do it unethically.
Let us start sowing seeds now for our children and their children to benefit from. It is up to us to dream big, choose aligned partnerships, communicate with these partners, and execute those dreams. The future of South Africa depends on it,” writes Meyer in conclusion.