Sunday, 12 July 2015

South Africa's action plan to keep the lights on

South Africa's so-called "energy war room", established to address the country's energy supply problems, was focused on implementing government's five-point plan, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.

The minister said this at a media briefing held by the Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster at the Imbizo Centre in Cape Town, which he chairs.

The government has been hosting briefings on the implementation of government's programme of action following President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address on 12 February.

Nkwinti said the five-point plan entailed:
  • implementing Eskom's maintenance and capacity improvement programme;
  • introducing new generation capacity through coal;
  • entering into co-generation contracts with the private sector;
  • introducing gas-to-power; and
  • accelerating demand side management.

In December last year, Cabinet announced that a war room had been set up following the power outages which were impacting on the daily lives of South Africans. The war room is made up of the departments of Energy; Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Public Enterprises; Economic Development; Water and Sanitation; the Treasury and Eskom; as well as technical officials.

The Government will provide R23-billion to Eskom in the next fiscal year to improve its finances to minimise load-shedding, Nkwinti said.

One of government's objectives in the medium- to long-term included the diversification of the country's energy sources, he said, and state-owned companies were "undertaking programmes to accelerate the exploration for oil and gas".

A number of exploration wells would be drilled over the next 10 years in partnership with the private sector, and gas infrastructure would be expanded.

Efforts to diversify the energy supply would include importation of hydro-power and nuclear and renewable energy.

Revitalising agriculture

Nkwinti said the government had set aside R2-billion to establish agri-parks in 53 district municipalities. The 27 poorest of these would be prioritised during the 2015/16 financial year.

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