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Lighting up hearts and minds in South Africa

Anglo American Platinum, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, is using platinum-based, hydrogen fuel-cell technology to power rural education in South Africa.


Hydrogen fuel cells will be installed at three schools in the Eastern Cape as part of the Cofimvaba Schools District Technology Project, a pilot of the Department’s Technology for Rural Education and Development (TECH4RED).


Aimed not only at delivering improved teaching and learning environments in rural communities, the project will showcase the opportunities of fuel-cell technology and ultimately encourage students to aspire towards future careers in a new industry in South Africa.


Speaking at the launch event, South African Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, noted that the Cofimvaba initiative demonstrated that collaboration between the public and private sectors was essential to improving living conditions.


"Success stories from other countries, such as Japan, indicate that active partnerships are critical in supporting the uptake of emerging technologies. The knowledge and experience gained from pilot projects like Cofimvaba will not only promote awareness of the technology, but will assist in creating a market for technologies that are being developed through the Hydrogen South Africa Programme," said Minister Pandor.


Andrew Hinkly, executive head of Marketing for Anglo American Platinum agreed, stating that the business firmly believes there is a case to establish a new high-tech fuel cell industry in South Africa.


“Partnerships like the Cofimvaba Schools District Technology Project can make a significant contribution to South Africa’s development through job creation, education and training, healthcare provision and infrastructure development,” Andrew said.


Supporting education


In addition to sponsoring the three fuel cells, Anglo American Platinum, together with the Young Engineers and Scientists of Africa and South African Agency for Science & Technology Advancement, has also developed a complementary educational programme. The programme teaches students about the science of fuel cells, with 3,500 students from 26 schools in the region already taking part in the programme.


“Not only are we generating power to support the schools’ basic energy requirements, but as importantly, the supporting educational initiative has been an inspiration to learners, enhancing their aspirations for vocations in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation,” Andrew said.


“These skills are key to creating a knowledge base to support fuel cell deployment and, ultimately, a new, high-tech fuel cell industry in South Africa.”

Find out more about the development of fuel-cell technology at Anglo American Platinum.

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