ALTGEN CONSULTING IS A QUALITY SKILLS RESEARCH AND SKILLS ADVISORY SERVICE PROVIDER TO GOVERNMENTS AND INSTITUTIONS IN AFRICA
AltGen is a renewable energy and sustainable development consulting firm with a presence in Kenya and South Africa. We work with private companies, governments, international development partners, community groups and research institutions as a quality research and advisory service provider.
We also provide project management services and operational support for various RE projects throughout Africa, and recruit industry professionals to developers and IPPs. We provide support throughout the projects from conception to construction through our thorough research-based viability assessments which ultimately leads to the construction of the Renewable Energy producing plant.
- We engage closely with our clients and stakeholders to develop effective strategies to enhance livelihoods
- We contribute to the alignment between policy and sector-based initiatives, through research, democratizing access to information and leveraging value
- We encourage debate around improving livelihoods, specifically in the areas of meaningful job creation, skills development and economic development
- We provide critical analyses of the inter-relationships between policy and economic growth
Client: Green Cape
The Terms of Reference for this project include establishing a baseline of skills that exist in the Atlantis “Green Tech” Special Economic Zone, an industrial area to the north of Cape Town, with the aim of identifying possible skills shortages and where possible quantifying any skills gaps – all in order to direct focused investment into education in the relevant focal areas and ensure that the SEZ is as attractive as possible to potential Green Tech investors.
Work with the Pan African University of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) in Algeria is ongoing and has included:
FEB ‘19Curriculum Review Workshop, Tlemcen, Algeria
OCT ‘18Career Services Workshop, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
AUG ‘18Tracer Study,Remote
MAR ‘18Curriculum Review Workshop,Tlemcen, Algeria
MAR ‘18Employability Workshop,Remote
DEC ’17 – FEB ‘18 Tracer Study,Remote
NOV ‘17Employ-ability Workshop,Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Through these engagements AltGen has developed a deep understanding of working with students and faculty at University level, more especially in the institution’s development and now consolidation phase.
Client: DFID / AFD
The objective of the Green Mini-Grid (GMG) programme is the: “roll out of approximately 15 GMG projects that are sustainable and will provide 500 000 rural Kenyans with access to reliable green electricity for the first time”.To this end, the UK, through its Department for International Development (DFID), allocated £30m to support mini-grid project development and private investment in Kenya. Agence Française de Développement (AFD) was selected as the implementing partner with a managing entity (IED of France) appointed to administer the investments grants and technical assistance facilities made available to support GMG market development.
To provide internal support to AFD, a Supervisory Consultant was appointed to ensure effective day to day supervision and management of the programme, timely delivery of quality outputs, and the positive visibility of the programme, ensuring maximum positive impacts for all stakeholders.
In late 2016 AltGen Kenya LTD was appointed to provide the Supervisory Consultant to AFD, a relationship that is ongoing and has resulted in effective collaboration with AFD that has challenged several claims put to the program, highlighted multiple risks, and ensures an effective, honest and collaborative atmosphere of cooperation prevails between all stakeholders.
The GMG program has effectively delivered power to several communities and continues to roll out further projects. It is on track to deliver on its mandate.
Client: South African Wind Energy Project Phase 2 (Sawep2) As Funded By The Global Environmental Facility (Gef) And The South African Department Of Energy (Doe) As The Executing Entity Being Supported By The United Nations Development Program (Undp) South Africa Country Office
The project entailed (1) the development of a detailed stakeholder matrix to identify key players in the South African wind energy industry, specifically in the field of training and skills development, (2) conducting an inclusive workshop that facilitated discussion and collaboration around identifying possible training and skills development interventions, and (3) ultimately providing a revised set of outputs and activities for the SAWEP2 programme in sufficient detail to form the basis of the development of fresh terms of references.
As it turned out, at the time of the execution of this project, the South African wind energy industry has been in hiatus for over two years as the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (REIPP) had stalled, and much of the institutional support for and interest in wind based technical RE training had been on the decline. The emphasis thus shifted toward the implementation of training in the socio-economic sphere which on investigation was revealed to be devoid of institutional support and engagement being limited to project specific compliance-based reporting by lenders, project owners and independent SED service providers. Ultimately AltGen recommended that no training take place until the framework conditions for SED specific training were addressed.
The process of salary benchmarking is complex with a multiplicity of factors influencing the outcome of salary negotiations, including the push and pull factors of both the employee and the employer. AltGen has a database of several thousand RE specific employees located throughout Africa and can disaggregate this information into various stratified skills and seniority data. Salary benchmarking is generally done for a full organization chart when costing out team remuneration when an international corporate enters into a new market, but it can also be undertaken as a ‘once off’ engagement for a particular (generally senior) role.
Client: Leading Biogas Plant Developer And Operator (Ongoing)
This project entailed the in-sourcing of management through to general labour, as the project owners withdrew from an unsuccessful operations and maintenance contract and took on the operational aspects of plant management themselves. AltGen has remained involved from project inception through to implementation and execution, including all new conditions of employment, job profiles, job descriptions, employee relationship management and disciplinary procedures, and HR advisory. Administrative functions may remain the ambit of the client once new procedures and principles have been embedded.
Client: Pan-African University Of Water And Energy Science (Pauwes) And The Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
As one of the specialized units of the Pan African University, PAUWES offers a two-year Master of Science programme in Water and Energy, with the possibility of choosing between the tracks of engineering or policy. In September 2016 the first cohort of 26 students graduated from PAUWES with master’s degrees in water and Energy Engineering from the host institution of the University of Tlemcen in Algeria. However, support from the project sponsors, the German Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Development, is contingent on a 70% employment rate being attained for each cohort, within nine months of graduation.
As outputs for the PAUWES engagement, AltGen was retained to conduct a workshop in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, on job search and acquisition, CV preparation, job matching, and online presence and subsequently to provide job placement services matching the participants with the appropriate jobs, internships or trainee programs. The engagement is ongoing, with further input been provided into career services and curriculum development.
Client: Leading Wind OEM
In the event of retrenchments being necessary, AltGen has on occasion engaged with RE employers to narrow down on role descriptions and staff capabilities and skill sets and through a process of direct engagement provided professional opinions on which staff have business-appropriate skills and are recommended for retention.
Client: Leading Wind OEM
In these instances, labour unrest may be resulting in reduced productivity and continued challenges to conditions of employment and management structures. A lack of understanding of general conditions of employment, corporate financial performance and specific project constraints may be a partial cause. Where these misalignments have arisen, AltGen has embarked on a fully integrated process of reconciliation which includes managing employee expectations as well as holistically educating management on employee rights. Outputs may include sector specific conditions of employment analysis and benchmarking.
Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GMBH (GIZ)
To underwrite an investment into the establishment of a RE training centre in South Africa, in 2012 the GIZ commissioned a study to determine the absolute numbers of various skills that would be required by the then nascent wind energy industry. The research was undertaken by a well know international consulting firm which postulated a range of jobs numbers that would be required in the different phases of wind farm development, construction, and operations and maintenance. The numbers derived were encouraging and were part of the justification for a US$10 million investment into the South African Renewable Energy Centre, SARETEC.
There were however flaws in the research, particularly around factors that were used as justification to inflate the jobs numbers that were related to “South African labour market inefficiencies” and that were not based on any real evidence. In reality, the OEM’s went directly to the “ideal” number of technicians, comparable to the most efficient jobs/MW factors in Europe. Further, the study did not anticipate that the OEM’s would do most of their own training. The number of turbine technicians predicted to be required by industry at the end of 2017, with an installed capacity of 2300MW, was set at 655. In reality, AltGen’s research established that there were 215 technicians in the market, servicing 2021 MW, one-third of the predicted number. This combined with an uneven roll out of wind energy over the period 2016 – 2018, has meant that SARETEC has been unable to justify training further WTST’s.
Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GMBH (GIZ)
As a part of its social compact commitment the GIZ has mainstreamed HIV into its activities, and as such has a compliance obligation to produce “one good practise document on the HIV related measures in the RE sector”. The report sought to be this good practice document. As background, a review was conducted of the HIV related socio-economic development initiatives implemented by the various IPP’s, with interviews and site visits being held with several them, in order to gain a broader picture of what was being done to mainstream HIV/AIDS in RE in South Africa. Local and international HIV/AIDS best practise was investigated and a local RE specific best practice set of recommendations was collated. Comparisons were then drawn between the current HIV/AIDS practises in RE in South and benchmark practises.
The conclusion of the project was that HIV/AIDS initiatives in RE in South Africa vary widely in approach, method and meaning, and in a significant number of IPPs there is little or no HIV/AIDS engagement.
Client: South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC), Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GMBH (GIZ) And MERSETA (Mining And Engineering Sectoral Education And Training Authority)
ENGAGEMENT 1: COURSE INTEGRITY
SARETEC, initiated in 2011, is a training centre aimed specifically at providing training in renewable energy technologies. The main offering is the Wind Turbine Service Technician course (WTST) , and it was AltGen’s task to provide independent verification of the course including evaluating the learner selection criteria, the reasons for the appointment of delivery partners, and including a summative assessment “of learning” to evaluate student skill acquisition, and a formative assessment “for learning” in order to collect detailed information that educators could use to improve learner instruction. Other elements that were evaluated included the learner materials, the workplace evaluation and logbook, the WTST implementation plan including a risk assessment, and a holistic project close-out on the three primary project components being learner selection criteria, the curriculum and assessment specification, and the learner results.
ENGAGEMENT 2: WIND TURBINE TECHNICIAN TRACER STUDY
The formal engagement here was to “review the career development and professional progress of at least three groups of SARETEC wind energy technician training course graduates” over a period of time, in order to track their engagement with and absorption by the South African wind energy industry and thereby indirectly assess the success of both the initial training in Germany and the second and third WTST courses which were offered in South Africa. The secondary objective of the study was to assess student’s motivation for attending, career and professional development after completion, future expectations in terms of career growth, and current and evolving employment statistics of the graduates.
The engagement took place over a period of 12 months, with entry and exit interviews conducted with all of the course participants as well as their supervisors. The outcome revealed a very interesting interplay between the recruitment process, the engagement of SARETEC with the OEM’s and the subsequent qualified success of the absorption of the graduates into the wind energy industry and included a set of recommendations for SARETEC to ensure the successful placement of graduated technicians.
Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GMBH (GIZ) And The South African Biogas Industry Association (SABIA)
This project entailed an investigation into the skills need of and an estimation of the job potential in the biogas industry in South Africa. The study found that as of April 2016 there were 1700 people directly employed in the biogas industry with around 38 projects in commercial operation with a number in the pipeline.A series of interviews were held with owners, developers, EPC’s, O&M’s, OEM’s, technical specialists and industry associations and a detailed breakdown of the project value chain was undertaken, with skills needs, organograms and potential job creation being investigated at each stage, factoring project sizes and the duration of PPA’s.Factors inhibiting the roll out of biogas were also dissected and a job creation model which projected jobs numbers that factored in the variables based on a conservative and optimistic project implementation was derived. The project was reduced to a PPT presentation and shared with the biogas platform and outcomes played a significant role in investment decisions taken by industry stakeholders.
LTWP is a 310MW wind farm, the largest in Africa. It comprises 365 Vestas wind turbines, 850kW each, providing 15 -20% of Kenyan national demand when operational. Grid connection is via a 400kv purpose built double circuit 428km transmission line that will allow for further expansion of the national grid and development of additional power generation projects. The location is remote and entailed the upgrading of over 200km of secondary access roads and the construction of 100km of internal roadways.
Vestas was responsible for a €300 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the supply and installation of the V52 turbines at LTWP. The project was considered ‘high risk’ with funding being declined by the World Bank on concerns about the construction of the transmission line the African Development Bank (AfDB) underwrote the transmission project with co-lenders being Standard Bank and Nedbank of South Africa. The project was the largest single EPC contract ever to have been undertaken by Vestas at that time.
AltGen was engaged by Vestas in two phases: the first phase entailed leading the compilation of the construction team. and the second phase, initiated approximately 18 months later, involved recruitment and selection of the operations and maintenance staff. Both phases encompassed full responsibility for recruitment and selection of all appropriate staff included developing job profiles, interviewing, selection matrix development, sourcing, screening, background checks, competency testing, compiling offers of employment, relocation, on-boarding and integration into the corporate environment.
The project required very close collaboration with both the Construction Project Manager prior to and during construction and the Service Manager in the hand-over phase into operations and maintenance. The two main challenges encountered were (1) dealing with misalignment between a European OEM / EPC with limited emerging market exposure and local Kenyan expectations, and (2) the sourcing and selection of local resources in an extremely remote location in Marsabit County in far Northern Kenya, an area which borders Ethiopia to the North and which is populated predominantly by nomadic pastoralists. The district is 70 000km in size, with the nearest town, Loiyangalani, pop. of approximately 1000, serving as the epicentre of service provision for the eastern Turkana area.
Nevertheless, the project was successfully executed with all required resources being appointed in both Nairobi and on-site, and a significant number of the technicians being sourced either from the local community or being individuals originally from the area.
Engaging with corporate “as is” and “to be” states, including an investigation into general conditions of employment (allowances and benefits) and employee satisfaction. Part of this type of engagement may include a critique of current employer structures, recruitment and HR engagement, as well as defining wordage in the employment discourse concurrent with the implementation of Employee Handbooks.
In this instance, AltGen may be retained, for a monthly fee, to manage fully outsourced HR in conditions of corporate adjustment. Examples may include where an outsourced employment strategy has not produced results and the employment function is internalized, or alternatively where internal employment is externalized (outsourced) for a variety of operational reasons.
Thereare occasions where owning the responsibility of employment is notpossible, for instance:
- wherea national / international moratorium has been placed onappointments due to financial / governance constraints;
- contextualissues, where in international corporate culture is not appropriatein emerging markets, and an understanding of the local contextcontributes to project or operational success;
- riskmanagement, where an international corporate has not yet taken aninvestment decision yet requires a local presence.
Inthese and other instances, AltGen provides a fully outsourcedemployment service by assuming responsibility for the administrationof employment including all legal compliances, statutory deductions,recordables (leave, time off, time sheets) and employee relationshipmanagement such as incentives and disciplinaries.
Client: South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA)
The task list included providing a refined SAPVIA organogram and organization structure; CEO and Policy Officers Job Descriptions and Role Descriptions; an industry matrix to compare similar roles in industry; advertising and sourcing for roles; administrative processes such as references, background checks, qualification verifications, interviewing and shortlisting; and assistance with final decision-making process and negotiations. All roles were successfully placed.
Client: University Of Johannesburg (UJ)
The broad aim of the project was to establish career pathways and a broad overview of skills demands within the RE sector in South Africa, with a focus on the Northern Cape, to establish if there was potential to invest in a Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence (RECE) in Upington. Defining the career pathways and skills demands were undertaken in parallel and were to contribute toward and understanding of skills development and RE policy and legislative drivers within South Africa. An interactive predictive Growth Model was created, and the job intensity of the various technologies was investigated, with a jobs/MW baseline used to understand the job potential of RE according to various scenarios.
Client: South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA)
A study was conducted on behalf of SAPVIA which explored the job creation potential of PV under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program, the REIPP. Some of the recommendations out of this engagement included the standardization of jobs reporting and definitions, a job intensity metric compared to new coal, a summary of IPP job creation targets, and a summary of skills transfers and skills training that was taking place under the REIPP. The findings were significant in that the job intensity of operations and maintenance of new coal and PV were found to be quite different with new coal being around 0.1 jobs/MW and PV being approximately 0.7 jobs/MW – the difference being that in South Africa coal has an ongoing and localized value and supply chain (sourcing of coal and high wear and tear of equipment) where PV has a lower final state cost, which ultimately means that the job intensity of the value chain for SA coal is deeper than for PV, specifically where there are limited local manufacturing facilities for PV.
Client: Leading Solar Pv Developer, Owner And Operator
The brief was to conduct detailed community needs assessments in the towns adjacent to a wind farm and a solar PV facility. This was done by identifying the relevant communities and the statutory and non-statutory organisations that function within them to form a basis of a development of a high-level stakeholder matrix from which to conduct an initial needs analysis of potential areas identified for intervention including environmental, education, healthcare, skills development and enterprise development. The needs assessments were successfully concluded with appropriate project plans and with minimal disruption to the communities, and in this instance both projects that were supported were successful bidders into the REIPP bid window round four of the South African renewable energy programme. Due care was taken not to inflate community expectations of the arrival of mass jobs and socio-economic opportunities once the facilities were awarded preferred bidder status.
Client: Solar PV Project Developer
A Socio-Economic Development Plan was compiled for 75MW PV project located on the West Coast of South Africa. This entailed carrying out a detailed community needs assessment to determine the key socio-economic related initiatives and associated areas of intervention for local communities within 50km of the site.Needs identified revolved around social ills such as alcohol, drug and domestic abuse as well as job creation and skills development. A high-level strategy to implementing key initiatives was provided with an integrated development approach with the Department of Energy, key communities members, municipal stakeholders and other independent power producers as key partners. The proposal supported the creation of a best practice community monitoring and reporting system in line with developmental best practice.