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Ramokgopa proclaims ‘no need’ for electricity ministry by the end of year

Ramokgopa proclaims ‘no need’ for electricity ministry by the end of year
Illustrative image: Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla) | Kusile Power Station. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla | (Image: Mamun Srizon / Unsplash)

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said on Tuesday that there would be no need for his ministry by the end of this year. The implication was clear: the rotational power cuts will be over by then. It’s a laudable goal but one that will be greeted with scepticism. 

Ramokgopa said he was the one minister who was “working hard to get out of employment”.

“There will not be a need for this ministry by the end of this year,” he told the In Perspective Infrastructure Forum organised by asset manager Ninety One.

He also said that there would be “significant improvement in the next three to five months” — timing which suggests a political timetable linked to the 29 May general elections.

When asked about that timing during a Q&A after his panel discussion, Ramokgopa denied there was a political agenda at play, saying that the situation in the first part of this year had improved compared to the same period in 2023.

“Those are the facts. It startles me, they say resolve the problem, and when we resolve the problem, they say it’s elections,” he said. “Even if the election is tomorrow we will continue to resolve the problem … I’m not a politician, I’m an activist who has been deployed to resolve this problem.”

Thabo Khojane, managing Director of Ninety One SA, in conversation with SA’s Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, and Mzila Mthenjane, chief executive officer of the Minerals Council South Africa, 12 March 2024.

Thabo Khojane, managing Director of Ninety One SA, in conversation with SA’s Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, and Mzila Mthenjane, chief executive officer of the Minerals Council South Africa, 12 March 2024. (Photo: Ed Stoddard)

It is true that there has been a reduction in the rolling blackouts dubbed as “load shedding” by Eskom.

According to Eskom’s data, there were just over 1,800 hours of rotational power cuts between 1 December 2022 and 16 February 2023 compared to 1,217 hours for the same period in 2023/2024 — about 600 hours or a third less.

“… in the same period, there has been 57 days of load shedding of which 14 days were at stages 4, 5 and 6 of load shedding in December 2023 and January 2024 compared to the 78 days, of which 66 were at stages 4, 5 and 6, in the same period previously. Therefore, the notion that Eskom is experiencing a further decline in performance is not true,” Eskom said in a recent update.

That’s still a long way from wrapping up the Electricity Ministry and declaring “mission accomplished”.”

Eskom’s aging fleet of power stations still has many pressing challenges, including complex management, low morale, lack of accountability and slow procurement, according to a recently unveiled report by the German consortium VGBE which the Treasury commissioned.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Treasury warns Eskom to heed VGBE consortium’s report on problems and solutions

It warns that targeted maintenance, done properly, needs to be ramped up “… even if this means a higher level of load shedding for a limited period of time”.

It’s hard to see how this can be done in such a way that the rolling blackouts which are crippling the economy are brought to an end in time for Christmas 2024. And the ANC government that has caused the problem through decades of mismanagement and corruption hardly has a track record to inspire confidence.

The power cuts would be far more intense and frequent were it not for the rollout of rooftop solar and other renewable energy projects undertaken by the private sector.

The situation would also be worse if South Africa’s economy, which only grew 0.6% last year, was expanding at a robust pace. This is a bit of a Catch-22 scenario: growth would be much faster if there was no shortage of power, but faster growth now would mean more power cuts.

Still, a target is welcome and Ramokgopa noted that his performance was the easiest to measure.

“He wants to work himself out of a job and that’s a good thing,” one senior industry executive attending the forum told Daily Maverick. DM 

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alley Cat says:

    Not sure if it even deserves a comment but here we go. This is electioneering, plain and simple. The man is an imbecile like his colleagues in the ANC. Does anyone actually believe this BS?

  • Geoff Coles says:

    His lips moved, any sounds came from elsewhere. His history is not good!

  • drew barrimore says:

    He has always been an optical illusion from Day One, and remains so.

  • John Kannemeyer says:

    According to the VGBE report the EAF on the Coal Fired power stations was 50.83% as of April 2023, the world wide industry average for Coal Fired Power stations of similar age is 77% in the same report. There is no evidence that this has improved significantly and the trend looks like it is still going down, so how does the Minister of Electricity expect this all to suddenly improve by the end of 2024.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    “Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said on Tuesday that there would be no need for his ministry by the end of this year. The implication was clear: the rotational power cuts will be over by then. It’s a laudable goal but one that will be greeted with scepticism. ”

    Sceptism? You have got be kidding.

  • Anton beeskraal says:

    There was Never a need for a Energy Minister in the First Place?

  • Schalk Burger says:

    Min. Ramokgopa has achieved more than most in the current leadership. Credit is due where it is due. At least there is some really hard work going on. Lets all support someone with a mission!

  • Johan Buys says:

    We should never have needed a minister of electrickery. Find me what other countries have that on top of a minister of public enterprises that owns the state electrical utility plus as bonus a minister of energy????

  • Joe Soap says:

    Not sure his post will exist after May 29, let alone end of the year.

  • Gavin Knox says:

    Then comes the 31st of May, 1910, the day the Union of South Africa was established, and the 31st of May 1963, when The Republic was declared, all conveniently ignored or erased by the anc, we will get the revenge load shedding… as never experienced… their revenge …

  • Frank Fettig says:

    Why? Will you have stolen enough by then? As if an ANC MP could ever steal enough…

    • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

      100% – the pigs are making sure the trough is non-existent before the elections. With them too much is never enough!

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    Cmon DM readers, we have his meaning all wrong.

    He’s right, there won’t be a need for an “electricity minister” by the end of the year, but there’s also won’t be a need for light bulbs, power lines, inverters or fridges.

    There will DEFINITELY be a need for generators and home solar however.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    code for “there wont be any electricity”

  • Anil Maharaj says:

    He should leave earlier since he is doing nothing useful

  • Geoff Coles says:

    End of which year?

  • Jack Russell says:

    No cuts? Perhaps because there’ll be no electricity to cut?

  • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

    This is such a joke! The only reason this ANC comrade is spewing these lies is to make the corrupt ANC appear to be competent and delivering on their promises, which is laughable. It is purely an election stunt to try to fool South Africans into thinking they are finally trying to “clean house” by pretending to be moral, ethical and that they care about the people. Hopefully no-one falls for this absolute BS and uses their only power, which is the power of the vote (correctly this time).

  • Rob Wilson says:

    I don’t believe it for one minute. The easiest thing in the world for a management team to do to look good is to ‘sweat the assett’ at the expense of equipment sustainability, and this is desperation stacking up. They have already got a list of excuses lined up for 2025. Remember ‘wet coal’?

  • Shamaman Bundoo says:

    Just cheap talk again Minister

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    He’s probably right, there’ll be no electricity by then.

  • Jimbo Smith says:

    The comments below say it all! I listened to “Sparky ” being interviewed on TV a few nights ago. Wow! He could have been quoting stuff out of “Alice in Wonderland “. Flowery language, a smug know it all countenance and a tsunami of largely incomprehensible gibberish providing little confidence in his ability to assess , let alone fix the EKSDOM mess! And then a bunch of seriously clever German engineers do their work and confirm the true reality. It is an insult to every single SA citizen how people like “Sparky ” play us for fools!!

  • Bryan Arundel says:

    I would believe him if he said he would repay all his earnings as minister of electricity should his prediction not come true.

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