Bridging finance empowers rural economies | DBSA

The Story

The Development Bank of Southern Africa is stimulating rural economies by providing finance which enables infrastructure development.

For a driven Grade 12 learner like Yonela Mzozo, it was difficult to move from the urban excitement of Mthatha, to the quiet of rural Ntsikeni on the outskirts of KwaZulu-Natal. Even though she was happy to now be living with her mother, the lack of electricity and its concomitant problems felt suffocating. She had no access to a cell-phone, internet, or television, and had to attempt her studies either by candlelight or by generator-powered lights – that is, until the petrol ran out. “The struggle was real”, she says.

Her frustrations were shared by teacher Zolani Tswane. Lamenting the need for pages and pages of hand-written lesson plans, and the time wasted by writing on a black-board, he felt that he couldn’t help his students realise their full potential.

The lack of electricity also severely affected the few small businesses in Ntsikeni – Owen Jili’s tyre business being among them. In the days before electricity, it usually took him more than an hour to manually pump tractor tyres with a hand pump – something he experienced as highly unproductive.

The town’s 1250 houses are spread out over a vast geographical area consisting of rough terrain, and even within the municipality’s medium-term expenditure framework allocation, it would have taken them three years to supply everyone with electricity.

To make matters worse, Umzimkhulu Municipality lacked the funds to supply Ntsikeni with electricity, regardless of the community’s protests about the absence of service delivery. The town’s 1250 houses are spread out over a vast geographical area consisting of rough terrain, and even within the municipality’s medium-term expenditure framework allocation, it would have taken them three years to supply everyone with electricity.

The municipality decided to approach the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for assistance. The DBSA is a development finance institution, or DFI, and is owned by the Government of South Africa. It has the very specific mandate of funding infrastructure development in South African, as well as in the SADC Region, and beyond. By providing bridging finance, along with implementation support, assistance with technical skills and contract management, they ensure that under-resourced municipalities are able to accomplish sustainable infrastructure development goals, thereby stimulating the rural economy.

The day the electricity was switched on in Ntsikeni everyone celebrated. Owen is now able to serve his customers within a few minutes, and have plans for expanding his tyre business. Yonela says her school work has improved. Although they don’t have libraries close by, she can conduct research on her cell-phones via the internet. She is also able to watch television, and connect with her friends from Mthatha via social media.

Teacher Zolani is so inspired by how electricity has simplified and improved his teaching resources, that he gives extra classes on weekends and after school. Where the school in the past had a 100% pass rate, it now has students who actually get distinctions. Electricity, with the help of the DBSA, is powering Ntsikeni, and other rural communities, into a future which allows them to realise their full potential.

Short Films

60 second character vignette

Lighting Up New Possibilities

The DBSA is a development finance institution, or DFI, and is owned by the Government of South Africa. It has the very specific mandate of funding infrastructure development in South African, as well as in the SADC Region, and beyond. By providing bridging finance, along with implementation support, assistance with technical skills and contract management, they ensure that under-resourced municipalities are able to accomplish sustainable infrastructure development goals, thereby stimulating the rural economy.

3 minute short summary

Visible Improvements in People’s Lives

“The Development Bank of Southern Africa is more of a development institution than it is a banking institution. Except that, we use a banking component to trigger development,” says Chuckeka Mhlongo, Head: Local Government Support, Development Bank of Southern Africa.

DBSA’s involvement has significantly improved the lives of the people from Ntsikeni in KwaZulu-Natal.

Social Media

Powering Rural Economies

The lack of electricity also severely affected the few small businesses in Ntsikeni – Owen Jili’s tyre business being among them. In the days before electricity, it usually took him more than an hour to manually pump tractor tyres with a hand pump – something he experienced as highly unproductive. Owen is now able to serve his customers within a few minutes, and have plans for expanding his tyre business.

Powering Education

Lamenting the need for pages and pages of hand-written lesson plans, and the time wasted by writing on a blackboard, teacher Zolani Tswane felt that he couldn’t help his students realise their full potential.

Powering Family Progress

For a driven Grade 12 learner like Yonela Mzozo, it was difficult to move from the urban excitement of Mthatha to the quiet of rural Ntsikeni on the outskirts of KwaZulu-Natal.

The day the electricity was switched on in Ntsikeni everyone celebrated. And since then, not only has Yonela’s schoolwork improved, she’s also been able to enjoy quality time with her mother in front of their t.v. and still connect with her friends from Mthatha via social media.

Infrastructure for Rural Communities

By providing bridging finance, along with implementation support, assistance with technical skills and contract management, DBSA ensures that under-resourced municipalities are able to accomplish sustainable infrastructure development goals, thereby stimulating the rural economy.