Sumitomo Corporation’s success in Sub-Saharan Africa is largely linked to the fortunes of the countries in the region, so engaging with the communities within which we operate forms an integral part of our activities. Here we introduce some of many social contribution activities we conduct in the region with sustainability and long-term commitment in mind: Growing together with Africa.
Improving Mother & Child Health
In 2013, Sumitomo Corporation launched the “Sankyu (maternity leave in Japanese) Thank You Project” to support the Japanese Red Cross Society’s mother and child health programmes in remote areas of Kenya. The Sankyu Thank You Project was born out of one employee’s wish that the births of children would provide a good opportunity to remind Sumitomo employees of the support they receive from their colleagues as well as to raise awareness of social issues around the world and reflect on their solutions. This project aims to protect the lives of as many African infants as the number of babies born to our employees in a year (approximately 200). Sumitomo Corporation finances a mobile health clinic for remote areas in Kenya.
Empowering Blind and Disabled Youth
ACTION for Blind and Disabled Children (ACTION) provides advanced computer training and entrepreneurship skills free of charge to South African citizens of any age who are blind, deaf, or disabled without employment. Over 20 young blind and disabled people are tutored daily, with some very favorable results. We have developed a strong relationship with ACTION over the years with visits and communication. During an upgrade of computer hardware at the office a few years ago, an additional 10 used PCs were donated to complement those donated by Sumitomo Corporation previously. We also support ACTION’s vision by sponsoring learners’ tuition.
Mobile Library Project for Schools
Out of 24,000 primary and secondary schools in South Africa, about 15% have functional school libraries. Considering that reading is the basis of all learning, the South African Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI) was established in 2006 by business executives from South Africa and Japan to help improve literacy in the country. Second-hand, low mileage mobile library vehicles were donated by Japanese municipalities for use in South Africa and various Japanese companies, including Sumitomo Corporation, are involved as supporters and sponsors in rolling out this worthy cause. With assistance of SAPESI, 50 mobile libraries donated from Japan are covering around 950 schools as of 2016.
The Dorper Wind Farm
The Dorper Wind Farm site is located between the towns of Sterkstroom and Molteno in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, a region where 75% of the economically active age groups are unemployed. As part of its obligations to the Department of Energy as well as a commitment to sustainably develop the communities in which we operate, Dorper Wind Farm has committed to help improve infrastructure in schools and medical facilities; academic training and development projects for primary and high schools; and training, development and business support for small enterprises during 2015 and into 2016. This has proved very successful for those enterprises being worked with so far.
Donating solar kits to rural clinics
In collaboration with the Italian nonprofit organization CUAMM (Colleglo Universitario Aspiranti Medici e Missionari), which has a track record in the health-care field spanning more than half a century, our liaison representative office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, donated 50 Panasonic solar kits to clinics designated by the local governments of Iringa Region and Njombe Region in September 2016.
The clinics include delivery rooms that used kerosene lamps to light medical examinations and treatment at night. Besides providing insufficient light, the lamps are a fire hazard and produce harmful smoke. Solar LED (light-emitting diode) lights ensure brightness, use sunlight to charge, and are safe and reliable for use in unelectrified areas. Both regions’ governors expressed great gratitude for the donations. We are exploring ways of continuing support that improves the conditions at clinics in these regions.
Transforming packaging waste from construction site into school furniture
Construction of the Kinyerezi 240MW gas fired produces a large amount of packaging waste for the equipment and materials delivered from all over the world. Packaging waste includes cable reels, wooden pallets, and wooden boxes, etc. Faced with this situation, we explored innovative ways to minimize impact on the environment while simultaneously giving back to the local community. This led to our new initiative where we recycle wooden waste materials that would otherwise be disposed of and transform them into furniture that can then be donated to public schools nearby. Visits to primary and secondary schools in the Kinyerezi ward revealed that all schools lack basic facilities such as tables, chairs and bookshelves. In order to further maximize the benefit to the local community, we have selected a carpenter within the Kinyerezi ward for carpentry and finishing works. In July 2017, the first batch of recycled tables and chairs were donated to Kibaga Primary School which is located just outside the Kinyerezi construction site.
Building relationships of trust with local communities through the Ambatovy Project
The Ambatovy project is one of the world’s largest nickel extraction projects. We are developing the project with our partners, Canadian resource company Sherritt International Corporation and Korean state-owned resource company Korea Resources Corporation. The impact of Ambatovy goes beyond economic benefits brought about by revolutionizing Madagascar’s exports and creating significant employment opportunities for the Malagasy people. The project is also contributing significantly to the growth of Madagascar through the development of human resources that will build the future of Madagascar’s industries. We have been executing a number of Social Contribution Activities through which we aim to address the needs of the Malagasy people in and around Ambatovy with their best interests at heart. We would like to introduce just a few of them here. To our delight, the Ambatovy Project has enjoyed a warm and continuous support from the Malagasy people as a result of bot tangible and intangible benefits it has brought to their lives while forming bonds of trust between project operators and the local community.
Contributing to Sustainable Development
Sumitomo Corporation has partnered with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) on PAPRiz (Rice Productivity Improvement in Central Highland), their project creating awareness on the appropriate use of fertilizer for the country’s principle food crop. Ambatovy project produces Ammonium Sulphate as a by-product, which could be used as a chemical fertilizer, and the trial project has demonstrated the positive impact of the usage. To strengthen their activities, Sumitomo Corporation financed the printing of 40,000 booklets that give a better understanding of the value of chemical fertilizers, their economic efficiency and how to use them. In addition, Sumitomo Corporation financed 330 starter kits; with each kit containing rice seeds, several fertilizers (including Ammonium Sulphate) and a technical booklet, in order to contribute to the agriculturaldevelopment in Madagascar.
Contributing to biodiversity conservation
Madagascar is recognized for its rich biodiversity hotspot and abundance of endemic fauna and flora and the Ambatovy project places utmost importance on the protection of the environment. We aim to ensure that our presence results in a net gain for the area’s ecosystem.
Developing social infrastructure & human resources
The Ambatovy project has established a US$25 million fund to finance social and infrastructure projects in its intervention areas. Projects are selected in consultation with the Government of Madagascar and municipal governments. 17 main projects have been funded by the Social Investment Fund thus far.
Partial Scholarship Program for Learners of the Japanese Language
In March 2016, the Japanese language course was established at the University of Antananarivo for the first time. Due to the deep bond we have built with Madagascar over decades, Sumitomo Corporation decided to support Malagasy students who excel in Japanese studies at the University by providing them with partial scholarships. At the end of each semester, top five students from each grade are announced based on their academic results from the previous semester and awarded with scholarships to further motivate their learning. Madagascar has one of the largest number of learners of the Japanese language in Africa and it is our earnest hope that these learners will become the bridge between Madagascar and Japan in the future to take our existing partnership to a whole new level.
The Kpone IPP Project – Beach clean-up & protecting sea turtles
Turtles play important roles in the marine ecosystem as well as the terrestrial environment. However, the alarming rate of the sea turtle population decline in recent decades due to human activities have put turtles under the threat of extinction. Kpone IPP project site is very close to the shore and the beach area is a nesting area for sea turtles between October and March. The project team carries out turtle monitoring activities to assess the threats to the turtles, determine potential impacts of the project on sea turtles in the area and recommend measures to protect them. In addition, the beach area is littered with solid waste which has a potential negative impact to human health and wildlife. In an effort to improve sanitation at the beach and encourage turtle nesting activities, clean up exercises are carried out regularly together with the local community.
Introducing Japanese culture
Sumitomo Corporation has been engaging in activities to introduce Japanese culture as part of its social contribution efforts. This is to help our offices and Group companies around the world build positive relations with local communities. We are convinced that by encouraging a deeper interest in and respect for Japanese culture among local communities where we do business, we can increase the number of Japanese fans and help Sumitomo to expand and actively promote our business activities. Our latest event was successfully held in Ghana in November 2016.
Clearing Landmines for a Better and Hopeful Future
Sumitomo Corporation began our support to Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) from 2008 for their landmine removal project in Angola, which was successfully launched in the following year. We provided this Japanese NPO with financial assistance, office space, and a variety of necessary support, using the local network that we had built over many years through our operations in the country. In cooperation with JMAS, we promoted skills transfer and expedited landmine clearance. The project was successfully transferred from JMAS to INAD, the National Demining Institute in Angola, in May, 2017.