Jouberton is a township within the greater Klerksdorp area which was previously renowned for its levels of poverty and a lack of amenities. In 1993, the City Council of Klerksdorp and the Civic Association for Jouberton put together plans for the installation of electricity to 20 000 households. Funding was provided by the Development Bank of South Africa, the Klerksdorp council, and Eskom. The approach of the project was based on community participation and ownership, and emphasized training, job-creation and skills development for local community members.
Deltaplan Consulting Engineers were appointed as Project Managers. Sixty unemployed young men and women from Jouberton, with a minimum of a grade 10-school qualification, were recruited for training. They attended four-week course at the Jouberton Technical College, after which they were taken onto the project site under the guidance of a skeleton team of skilled workers provided by the Community Upliftment Network (CUN) a non-governmental organization. They also attended night classes at the Technical College, which was funded by CUN. A further 145 people were recruited for unskilled work.
Work progressed swiftly and increased in pace as the construction teams gained confidence and experience. As well as bringing electricity supplies to houses, street lighting was installed. Throughout the project regular meetings were held with the community to keep people informed of the project's progress and to deal with any issues that arose. Where a shack has been electrified, an extra length of cable is supplied to the householder in order to accommodate the moving of the board and meter when a brick house replaces the shack. As each section was completed, a 'switch-on' ceremony was held.
Further phases of the project were put out to tender. Some of the trainees joined forces and formed a company called Letlhabile Electrical Contractors. The council split tenders into labour and capital intensive component. Letlhabile was awarded a major tender for labour. At this stage Civic Upliftment Network provided entrepreneurial skills training, in order to provide project management skills. Letlhabile is registered with Eskom as an SMME and has tendered successfully for work elsewhere. In addition, many of those who were trained have gone on to find permanent employment elsewhere.
"The key factor in this project is the civic association which believed that the principles enshrined in the RDP should be translated into action" Jaycee Nxamakele - RDP Co-ordinator Klerksdorp City Council.
Innovation: The involvement of the community, both in job creation and training, and general 'ownership' of the project in an electrification scheme. Supplying electricity has also given the council an innovative method of addressing the problems of service payment arrears and the culture of non-payment; payment of up to 90% of arrears has been achieved during the first 5 years of the project. During the last stages of the project, the City Council adapted its tendering procedure to accommodate the contractors who had been trained.
Poverty impact Electricity is cleaner, cheaper and less hazardous than paraffin, coal and candles. The installation of electricity has made a major contribution to the general upliftment of the area and well being of the residents. Electricity was provided to 20 000 households in Jouberton. A team of 60 unemployed youths and women were recruited from the Township to undergo training. Approximately 145 unemployed people were recruited to do unskilled labour such as excavation work. The project provided skills training and job creation for unemployed members of the community; many of those trained have gone on to find work, or in some cases, form contracting firms.
Replication: The project is capable of replication at all local government levels; it is recommended for its skills transfer, employment effect and its positive impact on payment for municipal services.