*Article written by Mario Ruiz-Tagle
In a year of economic recovery, which goes hand in hand with facing one of the biggest health crises ever experienced, the challenges are many and large companies have an important role in this process. The responsibility of the productive sectors in bringing the necessary solutions and changes for sustainable development is clear, and it has become even more evident nowadays. In the electricity sector, I can say that Neoenergia's business strategy is guided by its protagonism, through innovative and pioneering initiatives.
Our premise is to maintain a solid long-term investment plan, reinforcing our health and financial responsibility. In 2021, we will invest an amount of approximately R$ 10 billion in network expansion, quality of service, transmission lines and in the construction of wind and photovoltaic parks. For this, we have a chain of partner suppliers, which exceeds 38 thousand direct employees, including own and third parties, and more than 100 thousand indirect employees throughout the country.
The commitment to our more than 15 million customers, society and shareholders is also translated in social actions and good practices cultivated throughout our trajectory. We have a bold investment plan and we need qualified partners to turn projects into reality. In 2020 alone, we allocated R$ 25.6 billion to services provided by outsourced companies, including electricity purchases. In materials and services, there were around R$ 8 billion, of which 99% refer to local suppliers, installed in Brazil, primarily in the regions where we have assets. Of these, approximately 70% are in Bahia, São Paulo, Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte. Nearly seven thousand companies act as suppliers to Neoenergia's production chain and the Distribution area concentrates most of the third-party contracts, such as meter readers and maintenance technicians.
These values drive the economy of cities, states and the country to a force of expansion, in search of healthy levels of industry. Furthermore, the generation of employment and the average income of Brazilians depend on this credibility. We have operations distributed in all regions and being connected to the most varied cultures within the same territory is a valuable differential for Neoenergia.
Therefore, we prioritize the supply of materials by companies close to our operations, valuing local labor and promoting employability. We have national partners for the
supply of more specific products, such as insulators and small transformers, and for materials called “Level A”, for example voltage and power transformers and reclosers, we seek global suppliers, who increasingly choose to have operations in Brazil.
Our choice of partners goes beyond quality products and services, attractive prices and location. We look for companies that are aligned with our pillars, purpose and values and that can further contribute to an effective energy transition, as well as good ethical, social and environmental practices. We know how synergy is essential for effective action and good performance in each of the expected roles.
The growing movement of investors and society in general to demand the commitment to a low-carbon intensive business from companies and supply chains is noticeable. This encourages a favorable environment for technological innovation for the decarbonization of the economy.
We are committed to the development of people and driven to collaborative work and we have increased the number of job opportunities every year due to our growth, as well as to maintain a quality supplier chain in line with our objectives and goals in the short, medium and long term.
We believe in and drive the sector's production chain and, in the same way, we provide the expansion and creation of more innovative and quality services. We are a network connected to technological evolution and we will certainly have a prosperous path in this recovery. The world needs an increasingly sustainable development and we at Neoenergia are an important part of this evolutionary trajectory.