About Sustainable Energy Africa

Sustainable Energy Africa promotes the development of an equitable low carbon, clean energy economy throughout Southern Africa. Through our work we promote the more efficient use of conventional energy, the transition to more sustainable energies such as solar and wind power, access to safe and affordable energy for all, and a holistic view of sustainable development.


The context

64% of South Africa’s population reside in urban areas and 40% are located in the metropolitan municipalities. Given the growth that many cities are predicted to encounter over the next few decades, there is a unique window of opportunity to grow the city space according to sustainable planning and development principles, which will reduce carbon emissions and be of benefit to all people in the city. This would include implementing healthy densification (with associated resource efficiency implications of a more dense city), integrated transport and spatial planning approaches, sustainable housing delivery, addressing welfare in the ever increasing informal settlements, and moving towards cleaner and more efficient forms of energy production. Implementing these measures effectively will result in increased employment and economic growth through a sustainable green economy, while concurrently improving equity and social benefits for the citizens.

The recognition of energy as a key thread in the workings and function of a city has led to a dramatic shift at the local and national level. Energy issues at the local level, previously relegated solely to municipal electricity departments, have now been integrated into a range of service delivery and environmental departments and, in the larger cities, new energy units have been established to plan and manage this key area. Emerging national policy also now explicitly recognises the role of local government in shaping energy demand into the future.

Municipalities need support to build their capacity, to provide them with detailed technical information, and to prioritise from the range of management options in relation to this new area of work. SEA has provided such support since its inception in 2000.


The work

Sustainable Energy Africa promotes equitable, low carbon, clean energy development in urban South Africa and Africa. Through our work we promote energy efficiency, the transition to more sustainable energies such as solar and wind power and access to safe and affordable energy services for all. We do this through research, capacity building, policy engagement and information dissemination.

South Africa is in an enviable position with regard to natural energy resources, particularly renewable energy sources. SEA is at the forefront of promoting sustainable, efficient and cost-effective energy whilst at the same time addressing poverty, climate change and environmental issues.

While SEA works with all three spheres of government, we focus particularly on local government as this is the seat of delivery, and where capacity shortages are greatest. Sustainable energy transitions require that municipalities take a more proactive role in energy management if the country is to meet the challenges of sustainable development.


Legal status

Sustainable Energy Africa was registered as a non-profit Section 21 company in November 2000 (company registration number 200002808208). With implementation of the new Companies Act in 2011, SEA became known as a Not for Profit Company (NPC). As an NPC, the organisation operates under the direction of three directors: two executive directors (Managing and Technical Directors) and a third, non-executive, director. SEA has qualified as an Exempt Micro Enterprise (EME) for purposes of B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) compliance.


Internal sustainability

We believe that a sustainable future is dependent not only on policy and implementation shifts at the level of government, the economy and civil society, but that it begins with our own organisation and with our own behaviour. Thus, in addition to looking at our organisational sustainability, we also look at our personal lives and carbon footprints.

We have designed and built our own offices: a ‘future-normal’ green building, which utilises natural and recycled materials, feeds renewable energy into the grid and is designed to make use of passive solar temperature regulation. This building uses 70% less energy than a standard commercial building.

We are proud of our work/life balance ethic because we believe quality of life and productivity are positively influenced when work, family, community and leisure are all seen as equally important. As a result we have introduced a shorter working day, part-time work, telecommuting, and a culture of transparency where all staff have input into decision making processes. In addition we allocate approximately six separate days per year to reflect on and learn from our project work.

In 2015 SEA began exploring a transition to a flat organisational structure to promote democracy and leadership. This entails every staff member being responsible for management of the organisation.

We are committed to reducing both our organisational and personal carbon footprints and we are developing a strategy to move towards a per capita carbon footprint of less than 1 ton by 2016.



Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) was registered as a not-for-profit company in November 2000.