Work being done provides solid hope that electricity crisis will end: Ramaphosa

Reading Time: 3 minutes

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the anger and frustration of South Africans as a result of load shedding is understandable.

He says, however, that even though it looks as if the country will never overcome this problem, the work that is being done by government gives him hope.

Replying to the debate on the Presidency Budget Vote in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa called on South Africans not to give in to hopelessness.

The President faced a barrage of criticism for the government’s handling of the electricity crisis.

He acknowledged that this is a big problem and said government is working hard at resolving it.

He says government has been open and forthright about the challenges the country is facing.

“At times like these the electricity crisis appears unrelenting as if there is not end in sight. If one considers the work that is being done as outlined by Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, it is clear that we have solid ground for hope.”

He welcomed most of the points raised by members in the debate and described some as helpful.

“For example, the Hon Pieter Groenewald urges government to prioritise water in our interventions as much as we have prioritised electricity. He is correct. Which is why we have placed investment in bulk water infrastructure, technical support to municipalities and reform of the water sector foremost among our most pressing tasks.”

Budget Vote Debate: President Cyril Ramaphosa responds

Meanwhile, the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) has submitted its recommendations on the future of electricity planning and the revision of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the short term, the PCC made recommendations for selection of technologies that are least costly and quickest to get onto the grid through renewable energy backed by storage and peaking support.

It says plans for an energy transition and response to the energy crisis need to support small-to-medium and micro enterprises and indigent households, while enhancing social protection measures for affected workers and communities.

Following a year-long process of stakeholder consultations, the Presidential Climate Commission calls for an Integrated Resource Plan that maximises renewable energy available on the grid.

The Commission recommends a spatial approach to electricity planning to identify and build capacity for early renewable energy construction.

It further calls for investment geared towards upgrading the transmission and distribution grids.

Labour Market Policy Coordinator at Cosatu and Presidential Climate Commissioner, Lebogang Mulaisi says, “The PCC expects a policy adjusted IRP to promote approximately 50 to 60 GW of variable renewable energy by 2030, supported by storage and between 3 and 5 GW of peaking support. Government needs to balance cost, economics, jobs environment and health in assessing these opportunities. The Commissioners have called for an urgent review of electricity pricing.”

The PCC echoes the many calls for the review of the electricity pricing system, its cost and revenue models at all tiers and across all users.

It supports a minimum threshold for free basic electricity of 350 kilowatts-per-hour, per household, per month.

Mulaisi adds, “The Commissioners have called for an urgent review of electricity pricing. Secondly, stakeholders at the colloquium argued that the free basic electricity system should be reformed. Thirdly, we urgently need to upgrade the transmission and distribution grids a penultimate enabler is building the capacity of local government. Local government has a fundamental role to play in electricity distribution, energy efficiency and small-scale generation.” – Additional reporting by Naledi Ngcobo.