President Ramaphosa has kept his word to fill the nation in on the government’s “package measures” in combatting our energy crisis.
Taking to address the nation tonight (25 July), President Ramaphosa began his speech by emphasising that locals are “justifiably frustrated” by loadshedding’s woes – something we’re well aware of. Ramaphosa noted that we have gone an entire decade without a reliable electricity supply, and changes urgently need to be made albeit years later.
A set of actions were outlined which Ramaphosa believes will help close the gap in our electricity shortcomings.
Here’s the breakdown of what the president said:
Ramaphosa expressed that he had embarked on numerous consultations with various parties regarding the crisis. These included Eskom’s executive management, former personnel, power station managers, community leaders, labour federations, the South African Black Business Council, Business Unity SA, experts and community representatives as well as political party leaders.
All played a role in shaping the response to the national crisis.
Ramaphosa explained that we need to understand the problem as a nation – Eskom’s problem. In short, South Africa has the capacity to produce 460 000MW of electricity, however, when it’s high demand, we use 320 000MW. Only 60%is actually available at any given time due to Eskom’s current state.
Eskom’s underperforming state stands where it does for a few reasons; many of the power stations are over 35-years-old and have declined in their ability to perform, maintenance is costly, Eskom faces crimes that impact maintenance including theft and sabotage, the newer power stations have experienced delays and design flaws, and Eskom has a debt of R400 billion. All in all, it’s a hefty load that’s create the beast of loadshedding.
Why do we have loadshedding in the first place?
In short, loadshedding comes about as a way to prevent the power grid from collapsing completely and leaving the country in total darkness. Thus, power is cut from some sectors to provide for others and vice versa.
The plan of action
Ramaphosa nodded to a series of measures that the government believes will stop loadshedding from being as severe as it is. These plans may not stop loadshedding altogether at this stage, but Ramaphosa has emphasised that they will put us in a much better position power-wise.
The plans include ways to procure new generation capacities. These will draw on:
- Private sector investments and regulations to allow this, including leniency on licensing regulations. This is aimed at creating a more competitive energy market in South Africa. The 100MW licencing threshold is to be scrapped
- Reviving the Renewable Energy Procurement Programme that was stopped in 2018, allowing Eskom to lend focus to solar and wind power. Locals have also been encouraged to utilise our natural abundance of sunlight for energy sources
- Allowing people and businesses an increase in the amount of independent electricity ownership they can have, which will allow people to buy and sell electricity. Ramaphosa noted that a surplus of electricity from places like malls can and will be sold to Eskom
- Increasing Eskom’s budget for maintenance, and garnering help from previous personnel
- Enforcing police programmes specified for Eskom-related crimes and investigations, which have already been devised by the SAPS
- Introducing a programme to encourage locals on efficient and reduced electricity usage
- Solar and battery storage projects at various power stations will also e underway
- Support from neighbouring countries who have surplus power as part of the Southern Africa Power Pool Arrangement.
- Utilising mobile generators
One point many may be enticed to hear is that of private investments. However, Ramaphosa noted that Esom will remain state-owned, working alongside private investments.
Additionally, a National Energy Crisis Committee has also been delegated to tackle the energy crisis in a similar fashion to the pandemic’s crisis committee – drawing on leadership from different departments and experts to tackle the crisis.
While South Africans may have many questions going forward, there at least appears to be a torch of hope guiding us through the tunnel. However, how long it will realistically take to stand at the tunnel’s end (despite promised timelines) is still a shot-in-dark estimate.