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Sustainability Summit Explores Africa’s Potential to Become A Renewable Energy Giant

South Africa has the potential to become a renewable energy giant within five years. Opportunities abound in solar, wind power, biomass, green hydrogen and the manufacture and export of green commodities. South Africa’s electricity crisis could boost the country’s future competitiveness.

This was the message from Gareth Rees, Head of Sustainability Strategy at Deloitte, in a presentation to almost 300 delegates at the recent third annual Sustainability Summit Africa in Johannesburg. Hosted by Deloitte Africa, the event brought together industry leaders, experts and professionals to discuss and explore sustainability-related challenges and opportunities.

“The energy transition is real, and the world is transforming how it creates energy. Renewables currently make up 5% of the energy in the world. By 2050, this will have changed to 46%,” Rees told attendees. He stressed that this is a moment of inflection for the continent. “We will either rise to the opportunity of climate change or be left behind by it. I am excited by the emerging discussions and the intent from business and civil society to take advantage of these opportunities,” Rees stated.

The conference organisers, Smart Procurement, report that the Deloitte Sustainability Summit was a resounding success. The presentations covered renewable energy, the circular economy, supply chain sustainability, climate change mitigation and social impact initiatives. “The event delivered hard-hitting outcomes and actionable insights around industrial innovation; procurement and ESG; reactive compliance; crisis leadership; and South Africa’s global competitiveness,” said Smart Procurement chief operating officer Debbie Tagg.

Experts discussed how today’s unprecedented age of innovation is driving sustainable business models and addressing pressing environmental and social issues. Billed as Africa’s transformational environment, social and governance (ESG) conference, the summit explored the past, present, and future of procurement in relation to ESG drives to ensure ethical behaviour and to mitigate organisations’ environmental impact. Businesses need to escape the reactive compliance trap, expert speakers cautioned, because it hampers efforts to proactively address sustainability challenges. Strong leadership is vital in dealing with crises and navigating the path toward sustainability, was a key message at the event. Rees and other specialists explored South Africa’s industrial competitiveness for sustainable growth and success on a global scale.

The BEE Engagement Day that formed part of the conference highlighted the intersection of business, environment, and ethics, fostering conversations on driving sustainable practices and mitigating environmental impact.

Attendees have commended the value and relevance of the summit. “The discussions were so informative and relevant to what’s happening today,” commented Rose Madela from Hydrogen-Africa. Amu Modau from African Rainbow Minerals praised the calibre of the programme, the world-class experts on the line-up, and the powerful panel discussions.

“The third annual Sustainability Summit Africa, titled ‘People Planet Purpose’, was fantastic and inspiring. It was a privilege to join my esteemed speakers as we discussed the critical role procurement and supply chain professionals play in tackling the climate crisis and how we can respond to the challenges the climate crisis presents across Africa. Congratulations Smart Procurement for organising such a brilliant event,” said Desre Hancocks, Ambassador – South Africa Chapter, Sustainability Procurement Pledge.

Moving beyond compliance to make an impact that matters is now a business imperative as Africa charts its critical role in the global ESG transition. The aim of the annual Sustainability Summit Africa is to pull together business leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, financiers and infrastructure giants to support a just transition to a more sustainable and equitable future.


Smart Procurement World (SPW) is the largest professional development event for procurement and inbound supply chain, supported and endorsed by industry professional bodies. SPW also achieves professional development for procurement and supply chain professionals while achieving economic development objectives in each region through enterprise, supplier development linking small business to supply chain.

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