While most of the country continued to experience rolling blackouts over the weekend, the newly appointed minister in the presidency responsible for electricity has promised to reduce the regularity and intensity of load shedding.
WHILE many parts of the country continued to experience rolling blackouts over the weekend, the newly appointed minister in the presidency responsible for electricity has promised to reduce the regularity and intensity of load shedding.
Although timelines cannot be provided, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, said that, in collaboration with various ministries and other stakeholders, households and business would have electricity.
He said the short-term focus would be on the 81 Eskom units. Those not operating would be brought back online while efficiency would be increased on those currently running.
“We have a mammoth task ahead of us to resolve the energy crisis that confronts our country. In the immediate future, we have a primary responsibility to turn around the performance of existing power stations and stabilise our energy supply, whilst adding new capacity to the grid,” he said.
Ramokgopa highlighted that the country’s GDP had contracted by at least 1.3% due to load shedding.
“Farmers are battling to irrigate, hospitals are unable to perform much needed life-saving surgeries, warranting exemption from load shedding. Small businesses have gone under and when that happens people remain unemployed and families go hungry. Big business has to run on costly generators, major road intersections are affected and the efficiency of networks restricted. Load shedding is a major problem that requires attention.”
Ramakgopa said the immediate steps were to implement the Energy Action Plan.
On Thursday he attended the launch of the Resource Mobilisation Fund (RMF) by Business for South Africa, which has raised at least R100 million from businesses and philanthropies to support the implementation of the energy action plan.
“We know that Eskom can guarantee about 26,000MW and 4,000 to 6,000 of those are at risk of unplanned maintenance. Going into winter, peak demand will roughly be about 32,000MW so we need to find an additional 6,000MW to resolve this problem.
“This means we either increase the generation capacity or we reduce demand from industries, households, hospitals and schools without undermining their ability to meet their daily needs.
“My preferred option is to do both, we increase generation and reduce demand.”
Thandile Chinyavandu, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, expressed concern at the appointment of Ramokgopa, saying while he was mayor, the City of Tshwane had a history of irregular expenditure.
She said there was a necessity for clear communication from the president on how Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Ramakgopa would work together.