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South Africa looks to Japanese collaboration on green hydrogen development

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Jetro Johannesburg executive director Matoba Shintaro

We speak to Jetro Johannesburg executive director Matoba Shintaro about the Japanese/South African collaboration on green hydrogen

Photo by Bloomberg

Jetro Johannesburg executive director Matoba Shintaro

13th February 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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The Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) this week hosted key South African private and public sector delegates and a high-profile Japanese business delegation at a green hydrogen seminar, in Johannesburg, on February 12.

This follows the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) between Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and South Africa’s Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in October last year,

The MoC was signed to advance the interests of both countries in the development of green hydrogen and ammonia.

“The issue is how do we begin to implement some of the principles encapsulated in the MoC, because those will be the principles that will enable the business that is here from South Africa and Japan to be able to actually commercialise some of the investments that we've made on both ends,” Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) multilateral cooperation director Cecil Masoka said at the seminar.

After the conference, Jetro will take the 27 members of the Japanese delegation, who represent a range of Japanese corporate and public organisations, across South Africa to look at the business potential in the country’s rapidly developing green hydrogen industry.

The Japanese delegation will visit key green hydrogen sites in Gauteng and the Western Cape until February 16, and will use the trip as an opportunity to engage with relevant South African private and public stakeholders in the green hydrogen space.

The ultimate goal of these exchanges is to promote cooperation and information sharing between South African and Japanese stakeholders with a view to seeing the green hydrogen sector expand.

Speaking at the event, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) green economy investment promotion director Annelize van der Merwe highlighted that the Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy, which was developed between the DTIC and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), was approved by Cabinet last year.

Cabinet also approved the South African Investment Strategy, which identifies hydrogen as a catalytic sector, as well as the New-Energy Vehicle White Paper.

“This all means that we are now well on our way to position South Africa as a key player in the hydrogen market and we are really keen to collaborate with companies from Japan on capitalising on these opportunities,” she said.

Masoka added that it was hoped that engagements with the Japanese delegation would lead to finding ways of partnering in supporting domestic use partnerships in hydrogen and ammonia in South Africa, while exploring the possibility of technology transfer inbound into South Africa.

“We're looking also at how we can identify large-scale commercial opportunities or large-scale infrastructure investments as demonstration plants that we can develop in South Africa, jointly with Japan. We’re also looking at how we can support our private entities to be able to get and secure offtake agreements from Japanese entities that will enable the partnerships to grow,” he said.

IDC industrial strategist and planner Mahandra Rooplall said the South African government had supported the development of several green hydrogen projects, which were now progressing along the development phase.

“However, although the private sector has come on board and initiated projects, which is very encouraging, there are challenges. There are partnerships required, as well as additional funding needed, to get these projects over the line. So we're looking forward to [Japanese stakeholders] assisting us in that regard and partnering with us on projects,” he said.

Rooplall said there was potential to also initiate new green hydrogen projects in South Africa, which he hoped could also yield potential collaborations with Japan.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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