Electricity system remains vulnerable, says Ramaphosa

The government of national unity has been tasked with ending load-shedding and achieving an energy-secure future, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
The government of national unity has been tasked with ending load-shedding and achieving an energy-secure future, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Presidency

Despite praising an electricity milestone, President Cyril Ramaphosa says the threat of load-shedding remains.

Last week marked 100 days without load-shedding — the longest continuous period since 2020. In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said while this is an achievement, it is no reason to relax.

“Our electricity system remains vulnerable and we cannot yet rule out the possibility of further load-shedding. Rather, this milestone provides encouragement for us to do more and to work faster to ensure a secure supply of electricity now and into the future,” he said.

Ramaphosa hailed the implementation of the energy action plan initiated in July 2022 as bearing fruit, with co-operation between government, business and other social partners as contributors to load-shedding relief.

“Thanks to the diligent implementation by Eskom of its generation operational recovery plan as well as a stepped-up maintenance schedule, there has been a marked improvement in the performance of the power stations that produce most of South Africa’s electricity.

“Eskom last week commissioned unit 5 at Kusile power station, adding an additional 800MW to the grid. This follows the power utility’s work to return three units at Kusile to service ahead of schedule.”

Ramaphosa said the improvement in the reliability of power supply has been a relief for households who have been able to go about their daily lives without the inconvenience of load-shedding, as well as businesses.

“The latest consumer confidence index compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research found the suspension of load-shedding contributed to increased consumer confidence in the second quarter of this year.

“This improvement is also a boost to the economy, which is reliant on the availability and reliability of electricity supply for growth. There is cause for optimism that business and investor confidence will improve.”

In its April monetary policy review, the Reserve Bank noted “as electricity supply improves gradually, underpinned by private investment in renewable energy generation and increased maintenance by Eskom”, South Africa’s near and medium-term outlook for growth was set to improve.

“The Reserve Bank underscored the importance of the full implementation of energy and logistics sector reforms if growth is to improve,” Ramaphosa said.

The new cabinet is committed to continue and complete structural reforms started during the sixth administration to resolve the immediate electricity supply challenges and lay the groundwork for energy security in future.

“These reforms included the removal of the licensing threshold for new power generation projects, tax incentives for rooftop solar, opening more bid windows for renewable energy projects and improving Eskom’s operational viability.”

As the government of national unity begins its work, the president promised to sustain this momentum. 

“By focusing on the broader picture and scaling up what has already been achieved, we are in a far better position to achieve the task we set ourselves: to end load-shedding and achieve an energy-secure future.

“This should encourage us to redouble our efforts and strengthen the collaboration between all stakeholders in the public and private sectors.”

TimesLIVE


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