Category: <span>Project Management</span>

30 November 2022 Media Release: GRDM De Hoek Mountain Resort transitioning to a green accommodation facility

Media Release: GRDM De Hoek Mountain Resort transitioning to a green accommodation facility

For Immediate Release
29 November 2022

As part of its strategic objectives, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is keeping to its promise of being a leading district in pursuing green energy. In 2017, GRDM installed a 150kwh solar system on its parking lot at its George head-office. Now the municipality has done it again at their resort situated 35 km outside Oudtshoorn, De Hoek Mountain Resort.

On 25 November 2022, the GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, the GRDM Municipal Council and officials launched this initiative with stakeholders to celebrate this event.

Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, during his address said that with the summits that GRDM hosted over the past few years, this event is a result of one of the summits, the Green Energy Summit. The Summit contributes to the municipality’s Growth and Development goals. Through these initiatives, Stratu said: “We look at what is it that we can do as an entity to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and to produce energy, so that we can reduce our municipal bills of our own properties and buildings”. Adding to these words, Stratu added: “we have to ensure that our facilities (resorts and buildings) are gradually taken off the grid of ESKOM, so that we can reach a point where we are independent and to sell back to ESKOM the electricity that we produce from our own sources”. Stratu also used the opportunity to extend words of appreciation to Passmore Dongi, Project Manager at GRDM and the Unit, for the efforts that they have put into this project.

During an emotional speech, Passmore Dongi, GRDM’s Project Manager responsible for renewable energy, praised the Municipal Manager and his management team, as well as the Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen and Council for their support with the implementation of the project. He also emphasised the importance of ideas and the potential they have to become reality. He noted: “You can only do something when you dream.” Therefore, “dream as many times as you can,” he said.

Dongi explained that De Hoek Mountain Resort’s current electricity bill amounts to R45 000,00 per month. However, in two years’ time, GRDM might only be spending R5 000,00 and the solar system would have already paid for itself. “What we ultimately want to see is a district that is energy-secure,” he said. Dongi added that most of these projects cannot be achieved by GRDM on its own. He thanked the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for the funding made available for the Energy Master Plan that will direct the GRDM in going forward in terms of Green Energy projects. “The idea is to reduce energy consumption by 80 to 90% at the resort,” he explained.

Menno Sulsters, Director and Project Manager at SEM Solutions, said that it had been a long road, but a worthwhile journey. In technical terms, he explained how the small-scale embedded generation system operates. In conclusion he said: “During this summer period, the system will generate extra energy that will be sold back to the Oudtshoorn Municipality”.

Alderman Booysen during his keynote address, stated: “We are giving strategic leadership, often on behalf of other municipalities, and at other times for ourselves, so that GRDM continues to be unique”. In addition, Mayor Booysen noted that GRDM has made many promises since 2016, and has “given hope to the people of the Garden Route.” He also touched on the significance of district municipalities and referred to the ongoing debate over their existence. “Every time these debates come up,” he said: “I would say to my colleagues, ‘you may think what you want; while district municipalities still exist, we as GRDM are striving to be different’”.

In addition he said: “The people of the Garden Route need the GRDM and the GRDM has shown that it works for the people of the Garden Route. Adding to the words of Dongi, he said: “Even if we dream, we must wake up to implement the dream and this is exactly what the GRDM has proven all along”.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, in his final remarks, Mayor Booysen encouraged all Councillors present with the following words: “This GRDM Council, your legacy must stand. We must reach a stage that no matter who comes next, they must not be able to dismantle what we have done. Whoever comes next must continue this journey and the GRDM must remain standing”.

Deputy Executive Mayor, Ald. Gert van Niekerk extended words of appreciation to all stakeholders, councillors and officials present to witness the launch of this ground-breaking project. In closing he said: “It was an honour and privilege to be part of this historic occasion”. He praised and congratulated the Municipal Manager and the GRDM team who had the vision to implement this project.

The ground-mounted, grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system was installed, along with a grid-connected battery system, as a pilot installation that will demonstrate how a resort can save up to 90% on energy costs. A detailed study informed the decision, yielding that the optimum solar PV capacity is 45kWp together with a 160kWh/24kW battery system. With this system, the facility can be powered by solar energy while also charging the batteries, as it generates power during the day.

In the case of fully charged batteries, excess PV power is exported to Oudtshoorn Municipality’s grid, and De Hoek Mountain Resort is reimbursed. A grid-tied battery storage system will discharge and release energy into De Hoek’s electrical reticulation at night, ensuring that no electricity will be exported to maximize self-consumption during the day.

In total, three (3) tables of locally produced mounting structures were installed on concrete foundations, each holding 28, 28, and 26 PV modules respectively of 550Wp each. The Solar PV modules are also locally assembled, meeting the Department of Trade Industry and Competition’s local content requirements.

Now that De Hoek Mountain Resort is powered by renewable energy, it can boast of providing environmentally friendly holiday accommodation.

GRDM will continue to make all its buildings and properties eco-friendly.

Feature Image: Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, in front of the Solar System structures at the De Hoek Mountain Resort.


13 June 2022 Media Release: Garden Route Skills Mecca Focuses on Renewable Energy

Media Release: Garden Route Skills Mecca Focuses on Renewable Energy

For Immediate Release
13 June 2022

The fifth quarterly Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum was held virtually on in May 2022 and focused on renewable energy strategies for the Garden Route.

This follows a fruitful engagement Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) had with the Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority  (EWSETA) on Tuesday, 17 May 2022.  During the engagement, EWSETA expressed its desire to support renewable energy projects in the Garden Route, which is in line with its support of Just Energy Transition (JET),  Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and the work done in South Africa by The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA).

EWSETA has a significant demand-based focus, and it is important for them to determine what the needs are of employers and businesses. They receive a limited skills levy income and need to partner with other agencies to address this challenge. This is why they’ve agreed soon enter into a memorandum of understanding with GRDM.

During his opening remarks, the GRSM Forum chairperson, Ald. De Vries remarked that renewable energy is gaining momentum as countries around the world are increasingly understanding the benefits it offers.

During the forum, Mr. Warrick Pierce, Technical Leader on Energy Systems Modeling at the Energy Centre of CSIR, presented the Draft Municipal Electricity Master Plan for the GRDM. The Draft document was funded by GIZ and co-funded by the CSIR and is considered to be a mini Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

Mr. Pierce noted that the plan looks at different possible energy futures and the employment opportunities it may hold. Furthermore, the plan’s focus is twofold as it looks at each municipality individually in the region and the Garden Route as a whole to achieve optimisation.

To draft plan addresses issues of future demand usage and that municipalities need to know their customers – their past behaviors towards energy and how this is changing in terms of self-generation.  There seems to be clear indication that Solar PV is the priority option for the Garden Route to consider. The Draft Energy Master Plan will be tabled to the GRDM Council this month for adoption and a media release about it will be issued.

The final presentation was done by Kirsten Freimann, from GIZ, who is the Head of Project: Career Path Development for Employment (CPD4E), which is a new 3-year program that started in June.

The program aims to address two major concerns identified by GIZ, which are the economic recession and the high youth unemployment rate plaguing South Africa. With the help of the Swiss Development Agency, The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Government was able to raise €10.5 million for the project.

CPDE4E strives to improve the employability of the youth by unlocking employment potentials by supporting entrepreneurship and SME development in township economies, as well as (ecologic) industrial parks.

The transition from learning to earning will be done by matching soft skills with entrepreneurship training with specific measures in place for girls and women.

Demand-driven TVET/ skills development will improve delivery capacities, through lecturers, in-company mentors, short skills programs, new occupational profiles, and curricula development. It is anticipated that it will strengthen private sector involvement in agile training interventions. This could lead to job creation and meeting demands.

15 March 2022 Media Release: Growth And Development Of The Agricultural Sector In The Garden Route

Media Release: Growth And Development Of The Agricultural Sector In The Garden Route

15 March 2022
For immediate release

Clyde Lamberts from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture was invited to speak at the first Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum of 2022 and his focus was on the growth and development strategy of the department for the Garden Route. He opened his comprehensive presentation with the following quote by Allan Savory:

“Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture, it is impossible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy”.  

To put this quote into perspective, Lamberts shared one of the Department’s recent success stories: A farm in Herald was in a dilapidated state due to a lack of interest in purposing the land. A businessman who was passionate about farming bought it, and spent the next five (5) years turning it into a viable business that now produces honeybush and proteas. He is the first black commercial farmer to produce honeybush in the Southern Cape. It is because the Department assisted him that his business was able to create sixteen (16) permanent jobs, with opportunities for an additional twenty (20) seasonal workers.

Before this, in Waboomskraal, the Department assisted another farmer, who became the first black farmer in the area to produce proteas and hops.

Lamberts noted: “When all spheres of government work together in an integrated fashion, these are the type of results we will see”. 

Lamberts listed the activities and services the Department provides to farmers and all other stakeholders as the following:

  • Independent agricultural advice and information
  • Supporting Livestock farmers – Development program. Livestock Forum
  • Performance testing/annual evaluation/ID limitations and opportunities
  • Investigating and implementing new hardy breeds and crossbreeding
  • Investigations in lowering inset cost through conservation agriculture – cover crops
  • Investigations into pasture species for marginal lands
  • Crop production advice and information
  • Niche crops/markets
  • Training

The type of training that is provided includes evidence-based and practice-based farmers’ capacity building. This is done through farmers’ days, demonstrations, peer-to-peer learning, and face-to-face interactions. Since 2018, the department trained 820 beneficiaries and this ranged from vegetable training to farm implement operation training.

The Department has a memorandum of understanding with GRDM and vacant land has been identified that the municipality owns which is conducive for agricultural development opportunities. The Department is researching the potential of commodity processing facilities in the Garden Route, which will be a source of immediate job creation – a game-changer for job creation in the region.

The Department furthermore envisions the building of Agri-Business Platforms for clients where potential products can be processed ready for consumption. Through Conservation/Regenerative agriculture, farmers are encouraged to rehabilitate and look after their own soil to turn it into organic matter that fertilizes with very few chemicals. Trials on livestock projects have yielded very positive results to date, and the global view is that going regenerative holds many financial and ecological benefits.

Agritourism needs to be promoted as it holds several untapped opportunities for the tourism sector. There is a need to compile tour packages to visit farms and processing facilities for both local and international tourism. The Roads Department has a role to play as well, as it must ensure easy access through regular road maintenance and upgrades.

The Department is in the process of revisiting mechanization which would allow for a central point that offers services such as ploughing, for example, as well as repair and maintenance services on farm implements.

Lamberts concluded his presentation by saying that we can be very proud of our district and that the Department is very excited to continue its work in the area.

30 March 2021 Media Release: Garden Route DM supports the Klein Karoo Export Agri Hub to create a unique rural economy

Media Release: Garden Route DM supports the Klein Karoo Export Agri Hub to create a unique rural economy

For Immediate Release
30 March 2021

This partnership seeks to develop the Klein Karoo economy, to create a sustainable environment and jobs – some of the important focus areas for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), which wants to form part of efforts to turn around the high unemployment rate of Kannaland communities. A recent partnership came into fruition when the GRDM Council gave the go-ahead for the GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on behalf of the GRDM Council with the Calitzdorp Export Agri Hub. This landmark agreement will see that high impact pomegranate farms in the Klein Karoo get off the ground.

The immediate need for the Calitzdorp Export Agri Hub was for a R600 000.00 injection to carry out a water study for the area. This phase, which was eventually funded by GRDM, includes a water study that involves the drilling of boreholes. Subsequently, two desalination plants for reverse osmosis, capable of cleaning 60 000ℓ of water per hour, were donated by the Calitzdorp Export Agri Hub to GRDM. These plants have an original purchase value of R2.5 million.


According to Dirk Rudolph, the contracted Geohydrologist, boreholes are currently being drilled in accordance to a geophysical survey that indicated that the most viable option would be to drill formations north-west of the pomegranate farm. This area includes the Baviaanskloof, Skurweberg, Goudini and Cedarberg formations.

At the moment, each borehole is analysed at regular intervals by using a V-notch weir during drilling. This will help the Geohydrologist to get an estimate of the blow yield of each borehole. According to Rudolph, this will be followed by each borehole being subjected to a 72-hour constant pumping test.


Research indicates that pomegranates require 6000 m³ water per hectare. This is 2.5 times less than almonds and about 2.8 times less than Lucerne, which makes it this the crop with the highest return per litre of water. Although this type of farming is still quite a young industry in South Africa and the Southern hemisphere, studies indicate that Kannaland and Oudtshoorn offer the best micro-climate for pomegranates in the Southern part of Africa.

The project, coined the ‘Klein Karoo Export Hub’, wants to see the 1% pomegranate export market held by South Africa expanded. According to Monde Stratu, GRDM Municipal Manager: The plan is to meet the demand for pomegranates during off-seasons to other parts of the world and the Klein Karoo Export Hub aims to export at least 50% of all pomegranate from this hub to other parts of the world. The GRDM’s partnership with the Klein Karoo Export Hub was carefully considered, subsequent to available research about pomegranate exports from South Africa. “The demand and supply factors relating to the industry, local soil analysis, climatic and environmental studies are some of the many factors we had to get insights about,” he said.


The GRDM Council supports the drive to promote economic growth through a co-ordinated regional approach and partnership in agriculture and Agro-processing that is focused on employment creation and exporting. “If all goes according to plan, a 1000 hectares (10 million square metres) of land will be acquired, of which 10% will be reserved for ten (10) Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) farmers,” said Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for GRDM. “According to our calculations, each of these farmers will receive 1%, or otherwise calculated as 100 000 square meters or 10 rugby fields of land to produce pomegranates and to form part of the pomegranate crop value chain,” he explained. “We therefore fully support the Klein Karoo Export Hub project because we will also be able to create a unique model for rural development in the region that can be duplicated elsewhere. This is also in line with our efforts to implement the Joint District Metro Approach (JDMA).”

The project would see the establishment of an Agri-village, housing approximately 600 farm workers who will own their own properties. “We anticipate that the project will create 1800 permanent jobs and 2000 seasonal jobs, pomegranate orchards and attract Agri Tourism,” said Booysen. Project Klein Karoo Export Hub has already secured 30Ha for the development of the Agri Village.

It is planned to grow Wonderful Pomegranates in the Calitzdorp area. The area is already known for exporting apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, and apricots elsewhere. The Klein Karoo Export Hub, known as Celebratio, already has a packhouse for fresh fruit and will also build juicing, oil pressing and process facilities to enhance its business model.

The GRDM Planning Department implements the project through its Project Management Unit. According to PMU Manager, Mr Passmore Dongi, “the idea is to create sustainable rural economies that can withstand the shocks and test of time”. It is imperative that as a District we have a paradigm shift in terms of sustainable development and begin the process of looking at development in a holistic manner. In order to deal with unemployment, poverty and other issues we need to be visionaries and begin to use locally available resources to address local challenges and to capitalise on comparative advantage as it pertains to our region. This project is aimed to bring a new dimension and perspective to the concept of rural development as this is aimed to demonstrate what honest PPPs arrangements can yield – if the engagements are transparent and with the objectives of addressing the needs of society at heart.  This project will create an oasis of wealth in an area deemed to be of no significant value because of the climatic conditions. The project will also have significant green energy projects to power most of the activities in the hub. “We will create a smart clean rural Agri hub that responds to the UN Sustainable development goals,” said Dongi.

Feature image: Alderman Memory Booysen, GRDM Executive Mayor (middle), with two of the ladies working at the Celebratio packhouse, Lewonia April (left) and Andrew-leen Jacobs (right).