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We can and will do more to end load shedding

South Africa

OP-ED

Ramaphosa – We can and will do more to end load shedding

There is no reason a country like ours – with the skills, capabilities and resources at our disposal – should have to endure a shortage of electricity, writes President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: GCIS)

In the coming days we will be able to announce a comprehensive set of actions to achieve much faster progress in tackling load shedding.

Dear Fellow South African,

Over the past two weeks, severe load shedding has disrupted our economy and caused extreme hardship for all South Africans.

Stage 6 load shedding was triggered by the loss of more than 18,000 megawatts of generation capacity due to unit breakdowns and an unprotected strike by Eskom workers.

After more than a decade of electricity shortages, South Africans are right to feel frustrated and angry. At times like this, it can feel like there is no end in sight.

Yet, while load shedding appears to worsen, the reality is that we have already taken several important actions to address the shortfall in electricity supply.

Our immediate priority is to stabilise the electricity system. As the system recovers and generation capacity is restored, Eskom will be able to reduce load shedding to lower stages.

The agreement reached between Eskom and labour unions will enable critical repairs and return additional units to operation. The transmission line from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique has been restored, adding 600MW to the grid, and Medupi Unit 6 returned to service on Saturday, adding another 720MW. Additional units will come back online during the coming week, further easing the current shortfall.

At the same time, law enforcement agencies are working hard to tackle sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom to address the threat that these criminal actions pose to the electricity system.

In the end, the bottom line is that we need to add more capacity to the grid. This will create space for Eskom to undertake critical maintenance and increase the reliability of its fleet. It will also create a buffer so that even if several units experience breakdowns at once, other sources can be used.

One of the first steps I took in 2018 was to revive the renewable energy procurement programme. In addition to the procurement of new-generation capacity through this programme, the increase of the licensing threshold for new-generation projects to 100MW means that private investors do not require a licence to build generation facilities up to this size. This simple reform has unlocked a massive potential pipeline of investment.

Eskom has made land available next to existing power stations for private investment in renewable energy projects. Design modifications have been completed to improve the performance of Medupi units one, two and three and are under way in units five and six.

While these actions are significant and will bear fruit over the coming months, they are clearly not enough to address the crisis that we face.

What the past two weeks have demonstrated is that we need to do more and do so with the utmost urgency.

Read more: Energy Minister Mantashe has the power to end load shedding with new generation capacity – experts

There is no reason a country like ours – with the skills, capabilities and resources we have at our disposal – should have to endure a shortage of electricity.

Over the past two weeks, we have been working with the relevant ministers and senior officials on a range of additional measures to accelerate all efforts to increase our electricity supply. The message is clear: this is no time for business as usual. We need to act boldly to make load shedding a thing of the past.

While the measures we have already taken will secure the supply of reliable and affordable electricity into the future, we have been looking at what additional measures we can take now to bring that goal closer.

We will soon be completing the detailed work and consultations needed to finalise these further measures. We will then, in the coming days, be able to announce a comprehensive set of actions to achieve much faster progress in tackling load shedding.

There are no easy solutions to our electricity crisis. But we are committed and determined to explore every avenue and use every opportunity to ensure that we generate enough electricity to meet the country’s needs. DM

This is the President’s weekly letter to the nation released on Monday.

Gallery

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All Comments 12

  • “What the past two weeks have demonstrated is that we need to do more and do so with the utmost urgency.”
    Where has this man been hiding? Urgency, the last tow weeks? This has been an urgency for the last eight to ten years.

  • Dear Mr President. You are 100% right “There is no reason a country like ours – with the skills, capabilities and resources we have at our disposal – should have to endure a shortage of electricity.” It is a management problem – which starts at the top of government. The people with the skills have not been put in place, and government has not listened to those that know for far too long. The key to management is WHO is going to do WHAT by WHEN. And this must have short term targets. At the moment, and your note does not say, WHO accepts OVERALL RESPONSIBILITY to get things moving. When are you going to put an engineer on the Eskom board? I have seen basic errors being made that should have been picked up by an engineering director. And by the way 100MW is still far too small. Eskom had to divide the projects into 18 little ones to get 1.8 GW – each will have to do an EIA etc. Other countries are putting in single projects of more than 10 times that size (more than 1 GW). You need to form a project management team, lead by an experienced project manager who is an engineer and who has had good previous success with major projects. He must report directly to you to tackle this. The project manager must have authority to co-opt whoever he needs to accomplish the task.

  • Does anyone believe a word he is saying? It’s just empty promises, missed deadlines and the condoning the incompetence of his government that fills the alternate reality he finds himself floating around in.

  • For as long as a fossil like Mantashe have any decision making powers, SA will never get out of this mess.
    We need an energy minister that embraces new technology. This stupid, stubborn insistence that coal is the only way out cost the country enough already. SA will not be able to survive even a little bit more of this madness.

  • Hey CR if it was not so sad the following

    There is no reason a country like ours – with the skills, capabilities and resources we have at our disposal – should have to endure a shortage of electricity.

    could be termed dark comedy 🙂

  • My dear President, see where cadre deployment got you – and on YOUR watch, nogal. Yet you still defend the practise. Oh, and do tell me, how do you think next year’s wage negotiations with the trade unions will play out – now that they’ve got you by the short and curlies? What the ANC allowed to happen to Eskom (and elsewhere) actually is a crime, which no amount of spin can hide

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