September 21, 2023
Energy Transmission: South Africa’s New Battleground
Electricity Minister, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, expressed deep concern over the country’s frequent power outages, terming load shedding as a significant economic hurdle that the government is determinedly addressing. “It’s a structural constraint to the economy… indispensable to the resolution of the economic question in the country,” Ramokgopa emphasized during a key seminar held in collaboration with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) this Thursday.
Transmission Financing Seminar: Charting the Future
Aiming to foster discussions around South Africa’s Transmission Development Plan’s financing, this seminar was pivotal. Its core purpose? To ensure the long-term sustainability of the nation’s electricity supply. Dignitaries from the government, energy experts, and private sector stakeholders gathered, turning the spotlight on the country’s pressing energy dilemma.
Ramokgopa, referencing the country’s Energy Action Plan (EAP), recounted a prediction from 1997. The energy experts of the time warned of impending generation capacity issues. “We were told…you’re going to run into a generation problem… and we ran into that problem.” The Minister urged for a swift and equally determined focus on transmission, similar to that on generation.
Eskom’s Role: Reliable Transmission
Eskom’s remit includes not only controlling but also ensuring the transmission system’s seamless expansion. Dr Ramokgopa pointed out two structural challenges facing Eskom – an energy deficit and logistical issues. Notably, he underscored the damage load shedding inflicts on sectors like agriculture and manufacturing. Drawing from South African Reserve Bank’s studies, he illustrated the adverse economic repercussions of load shedding.
Impact and Response
Highlighting the severity of the situation, the Minister revealed that some communities and businesses have been electricity-deprived for about six years. “This is not an exaggeration,” he noted, attributing these failures to financially unstable municipalities and deteriorating distribution infrastructures.
In light of these challenges, Ramokgopa announced the government’s plans to roll out regular updates on the transmission front. He alluded to imminent Cabinet presentations, stating, “[This] is after we’ve gone to Cabinet [to present] the options… Once that is adopted, then we will give feedback.”
The Road Ahead
These interventions, Ramokgopa assured, would bolster South Africa’s electricity supply, preparing the energy sector to meet global decarbonisation targets. This vision paints a promising future – one of enduring energy security and sovereignty for South Africa.