Social & Community, July 21, 2020, 1:58 p.m.

Lekela aids COVID-19 fight in local wind farm communities

Author: riaan@wecanchange.co.za

Lekela, has helped implement several humanitarian and logistical operations over the last few months to tackle the threat and impact of COVID-19 on communities around its five wind farms in South Africa.

The five wind farms are owned by two consortia led by Lekela.

Lekela’s wind power projects in South Africa provide much needed power, but they also work actively with local communities to design and invest in meaningful socio-economic development projects. However, COVID-19 has precipitated more urgent action due to its severe impact on local areas, and so Lekela has stepped up to help local communities in their response to the virus.

As well as protecting communities against COVID-19 itself, Lekela’s wind power companies  through their operation and construction management company MAMSA improved the lives of community members with their initiatives, including helping local enterprises adapt to the pandemic, supporting students who’ve had their studies interrupted, and donating equipment to health-care workers.

Lekela’s two newest windfarms, Perdekraal East, near Ceres and Kangnas, near Springbok, will come online in the last few months of this year and will contribute around R800m to their surrounding communities during their operational lifetime.

Chris Antonopoulos, CEO of Lekela, saysSouth Africa’s framework for responsible business is globally recognised as progressive and laudable. But the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic demand proactive and assertive action that goes beyond any legal mandate.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly raised the impact on existing socio-economic vulnerabilities in local areas, which is why we have quickly  instituted a broad range of initiatives in the local communities that surround the three windfarms already in operation, as well as the two under construction.

“The first step was to identify where funds could be reallocated so we could focus more of our efforts this year on the response to the crisis. This has resulted in several comprehensive support measures to provide security to vulnerable community groups, in addition to assisting the authorities in their response to COVID-19.”

Noupoort, Loeriesfontein 2 and Khobab  

In the Northern Cape, Lekela’s wind farms distributed PPE to local community groups. Loeriesfontein Hospital has been declared one of the province’s quarantine centres for Covid-19 patients, so it has been vital to equip the centre with robust PPE and equipment. Support has also been extended to supply the Calvinia hospital.

Vulnerable households in Loeriesfontein have been provided with food parcels, and enterprise development support is helping local cooperatives to make facemasks for community members. Bursary and higher education students in Loeriesfontein were also given tablets and data packages so that they can study remotely.

A second phase of COVID-19 related interventions includes procurement of more sophisticated machinery (CPAP machines and ventilators) for local health centres.

Perdekraal East

In Perdekraal East, the company facilitated provision of PPE and ward equipment for Ceres Hospital, as well as food parcels for local families and hand-sanitiser for local farming communities. Local seamstresses have been supported in making masks, and Lekela’s companies have overseen donation of surplus wood packaging to a local entrepreneur seeking to develop his carpentry business.

Kangnas

In Kangnas, support has included the provision of digital thermometers, PPE and hand sanitiser to the South African Police Service. Lekela’s companies also identified an entrepreneur in Springbok to make hand sanitiser and then delivered the sanitiser for community groups.