IBD Update: Impilontle and akubekuhle from South Africa!

Cheers and good health (in Zulu) from South Africa!

South Africa is a popular destination this year. There are five IBD teams based here, and a couple more will be passing through during these three weeks in-country.

To know South Africa as it is today, you really need to understand its history through and after apartheid. On our first day in Johannesburg, the two ChemCity teams visited the Apartheid Museum, which was the perfect starting point to capture the essence of the racial tensions that lead to a system of racial segregation enforced through law from 1948 to 1994. The rights of the majority black population were limited while white minority rule was maintained. The population was segregated in education, medical care, beaches and other public services, while the service provided to black people was worse than what those to white people.

After democratic elections made Nelson Mandela president, the government enacted a number of reforms that aim to empower previously disadvantaged citizens of South Africa to improve their economic opportunities.  The shadows of this history played deeply throughout both team’s IBD client projects.

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Our team is working with a large chemical producer based near Johannesburg. They have an economic development arm which has created an industrial park/accelerator for entrepreneurs in the chemicals products industry. They are striving to be the first carbon-neutral development in Africa, which is really cool. Our work will make recommendations that meet a collection of criteria: Generate energy, do it in an environmentally responsible way, create jobs and enable energy entrepreneurship, and do it at a profit.

The four of us all come from energy backgrounds and wanted to work in Africa. We are pretty excited for this great opportunity to drive energy development here, at the same time help further opportunities for African energy entrepreneurs.

Here we are brainstorming our energy proposal on the closest thing to a whiteboard we could find in our office.


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This was our entire team’s first trip to Africa. The first weekend was spent seeing some of the aspect of Africa you cannot get anywhere else in the world! First stop was an African dinner. I had a spiced oxtail dish that was pretty delicious. We got face painted like the locals tourists.

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Next up: BIG ANIMALS. You can’t go wrong with a short drive to see some big cats. Sometimes you have to hide in the grass to sneak up on them. We met hungry lions and cheetahs. We definitely hit Adventure Level 5 when we started getting eaten by baby lions!

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The South African people have been gracious hosts to us and we have loved our time so far. This weekend, a few of us (16!!) flew into Cape Town to explore that bustling city on the edge of Africa. We were on a pirate ship!  Yaar!  Avast ye mateys and shiver me timbers!  

We set sail back for America in two days!  IBD is just way too short!  Like me peg leg!  Yaar!

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