Load shedding makes SA a hard sell, says Ramokgopa
Power crisis tripping the country’s investment drive
Power crisis tripping the country's investment drive
Thando MaekoElectricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has conceded constant rolling blackouts make SA a hard sell ahead of the last leg of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s R1.2-trillion investment drive.
Since 2018, R1.14-trillion has been pledged by domestic and international investors through successive instalments of the SA Investment Conference. The last round will be held in Joburg in April.
However, SA’s energy crisis – which got progressively worse since 2008 when it was first implemented by Eskom, often leaving households, businesses and industry without power for up to 10 hours a day – makes investment in SA a “very difficult case to make”, Ramokgopa said.
“We have to illustrate that we are making an effort to [rectify the situation]. It’s one thing to say that we are working on it, but people want to see the results,” he told Sowetan’s sister publication the Business Day. “Whether our case is compelling enough is a different conversation, but I think it is important for us.”
Sowetan’s sister publication Business Day previously reported that the value of large investment projects in SA’s economy fell to R248.5bn in 2022 from R392.7bn the year before, reflecting the effect the energy crisis has on investor confidence.
To allay investor concerns over the electricity crisis, the government last year unveiled a five-point action plan, which includes improving existing supply system stability and increasing generation capacity by accelerating the on-boarding of renewable energy.
“There is [a] correlation between underinvestment in electricity generation and investment ... as a basic minimum we are trying to protect what is already in the ground – that is protect the investments that are already there as we build the additional capacity to make it possible for additional investments going into the future,” Ramokgopa said.
The electricity minister, who was previously head of infrastructure before being appointed to Ramaphosa’s cabinet in March, this week began a tour of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, which are prone to chronic breakdowns resulting in the utility implementing power cuts.
The tour, which began on Monday with visits to Kriel and Duvha power stations, forms part of the drive to improve the functioning of the power utility’s existing assets. Yesterday, Ramokgopa assessed the condition of the Kusile and Kendal power plants. This will be followed by Tutuka and Camden today, Lethabo tomorrow and Koeberg on Friday.
At Kriel, Ramokgopa told Eskom workers that as part of the solution to end load shedding, the utility would have to stick to its commitment to reducing the intensity and frequency of blackouts.
Minister of electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, second from left, joined by Kriel Power Station management in Mpumalanga. /Freddy Mavunda