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Khi Solar One: Enhancing local value

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As part of its commitment to community development wherever it operates, Abengoa has worked intensively to implement its socio-economic programs. As an example of this, we need to look no further than Khi Solar One in South Africa; a solar plant that seeks to enhance local value as a key to its success.

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In line with the significant socio-economic impact that Kaxu Solar One has on its environment, Khi Solar One (the first solar thermal plant in South Africa) rolled out a management model that was based on enhancing  the local value as a differentiating feature, back in 2016. Through socio-economic programs and efforts to promote entrepreneurial drive, the company creates local regeneration inflows that will, in turn, lead to an increase in local resources in the long term.

Specifically, the socio-economic program establishes investment in education as the central axis for changes to take place in present and future generations, and this will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the economic regeneration of the environment.

One of the ways that Khi Solar One seeks to enhance local value as a key to success is by making university scholarships available for local youths.

First of all, Khi Solar One has launched its first scholarship program for young people from the local community. A total of ten students will be awarded scholarships in different universities across the country. The scholarship covers the financing of university fees, necessary material and a monthly income to cover all living expenses. In order to encourage university education even further, these scholarships can only be renewed once subjects are passed.

Moreover, this project also offers paid practical and theoretical training in operation and maintenance work (O&M) that takes advantage of a task rotation method. Here, students acquire the necessary knowledge to work as specialists in O&M at solar plants and have a tutor assigned to them. This year, three of those who signed up for the program are now employed at the plant, and two others left the program after being contracted by companies in the sector.

The plant has also invested significant resources to improve the conditions of schools in the area. Funding for teachers, investment in infrastructure and even the provision of furniture are all projects that have enabled us to enhance the value of the local educational offer.

The socio-economic program is also involved with local organizations that have demonstrated they are capable of doing admirable work with the most vulnerable groups. An example of this is the Khani Kla senior citizen center, with which it has signed a collaboration agreement to improve the facilities of the center as well as the resources it has to offer.

In the area ofentrepreneurial drive, Khi Solar One has set up an ambitious program which aims to regenerate thelocal business of a specialist economic consultant. The project offers consulting services and tutorship so that funding can be received from financial institutions that have signed collaboration agreements. Furthermore, this consultancy is performed on a pro bono basis. At present, the program is working with 57 small or medium-sized registered businesses, and 26 of them are at an advanced stage of the program.

To date, more than 30 SMEs have attended training courses on offer.

With a view to improving the operational and financial capacity of local entrepreneurs and local businesses, the project offers technical training courses that include accounting, operational management, supplier management and marketing, among others. To date, more than 30 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have attended the training courses on offer.

Furthermore, the monitoring service of companies and business projects enables us to supervise, individually, how the knowledge that is acquired in the training courses is being implemented in practical terms.

Last of all, Khi Solar One has opened a center that is designed to bring together all the activities aimed at enhancing skills, in addition to providing a place that is equipped with computer resources and meeting rooms to cover infrastructure needs of local businesses. Our economic consultant can also be found here and is available each day to offer assistance to local firms in the way of personalized expertize.

Therefore, it can be said that Abengoa is investing in promoting an academic and business fabric which yields results for the community and, consequently, also for its plants. In this way, it contributes to making its projects not just a symbol of technology, but also one of social responsibility as a key to its success.

Cristina de Anduaga

Cristina de Anduaga Vázquez, Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Abengoa.

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