A partnership between the government and industry-wide businesses to foster overall energy efficiency

Established in 1995, the National Business Initiative (NBI) is a voluntary group of leading national and multi-national companies, working together towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa through partnerships, practical programs and policy engagement. Its 140 member companies include both multinationals and South African companies.


The Energy Efficiency Accord: fostering initiatives through interaction

The Energy Efficiency Accord was signed in May 2005 between over 30 business leaders and the Minister of Minerals and Energy as a voluntary effort to implement the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, agreeing to “collaborate to establish a mutually beneficial framework for voluntary energy efficiency initiatives that will help move the country towards its goals of attracting investment in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)projects and efficient energy use. ”

Industry participants acknowledged the target of reducing demand by the industry and mining sector by 15% (allowing for economic growth) and committed to taking individual and collaborative action to:

  • Develop sector specific strategies, targets and projections; • Promote the use of demand side management contracts;
  • Develop common and robust reporting protocols;
  • Develop a generic energy auditing protocol.

NBI acts as secretariat for the Accord. An Energy Efficiency Technical Committee, comprising representatives from both industry and government, was established with a mandate to facilitate the development of suitable institutional mechanisms, measurement and reporting frameworks.


The Committee:

  • Progresses the terms of the Accord, through agreement of targets, measurement protocols and other necessary steps to industry wide implementation;
  • Shares best practices, with different companies taking turns to share experience and results at each meeting;
  • Puts peer pressure on each other to put commitments into action;
  • Identifies and solves common problems and obstacles;
  • Fosters relationships, both between the small but growing cadre of energy managers in industry, and with others outside, such as those in government, regulation and energy supply;
  • Interacts with government, by providing an industry sounding board on these issues;
  • Enables training opportunities to build implementation across the signatory companies, for example holding monitoring and verification and Clean Development Mechanism workshops.

Outcomes and future challenges

The hard work of the NBI and the technical committee members have put in place crucial foundations for action by member companies, including commitment from an expanded number and range of companies, sectors and tools for measuring and verifying performance, setting baselines and taking economic growth into account.

A fast-track regulation would have presented the risk of imposing inappropriate approaches before South African industry had a chance to develop solutions tailored to different sectors. This initiative assumes that dialogue is more effective to set common objectives than command and control measures. However the priority for the Accord now is to both accelerate and demonstrate real progress. The participants plan, in the next year, to enable the commitment to setting sector targets and to publish a consolidated report from all the companies, with robust measures of performance, and explanation of the opportunities, barriers and strategies in each sector.