Delivering the State of the Nation Address yesterday, the President said the government is working hard to curtail the biggest constraints to economic growth caused by loadshedding by stabilising the energy supply.

Some of the measures already being put in place to arrest the energy crisis are the tabling of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, to support the restructuring of Eskom, and establishing a competitive electricity market.

Through the National Energy Crisis Committee, the government aims to focus all its energy on ending loadshedding, he promised. One strand of this intervention work is the substantial amount of new power to the grid that will be realised by enabling private investment in energy transmission, which the President said is already assisting the country reduce the effects of loadshedding. Other interventions include a major debt relief package to Eskom for the entity to use for infrastructure maintenance and transmission to ensure sustainability.

The President also touched on renewable energy, which he said the government activated five years ago and which has yielded 2 500 megawatts of solar and wind power to the national grid. Additional megawatts are in the procurement or construction phase.

Furthermore, since announcing tax incentives and financial support to those who install rooftop solar panels, the government doubled the number of solar installations across the country in just one year. The President also announced that the government plans to build more than 14 000 kilometres of new transmission lines to accommodate renewable energy in the coming years.

In addition, the President announced a special economic zone for the Northern Cape in the Boegoebaai port to drive investments in green energy. The Northern Cape, with its optimal solar conditions, has already attracted billions of rands in investment, he said. Meanwhile, there is a great deal of interest from the private sector in the boom that will be generated by green hydrogen energy projects.

The President also announced that regulatory reforms will see 120 new private energy projects in development. These developments are at the forefront of driving the restructuring of the electricity sector to increase competitiveness and bring down prices, President Ramaphosa said. “To ensure that we never face a similar crisis ever again, we are reforming our energy system to make it more competitive, sustainable and reliable into the future,” he said.

Transnet

The President announced that working closely with stakeholders such as labour, the government has established dedicated teams to turn around the fortunes of five strategic corridors that transport goods for export. Transnet at the Durban port is experiencing severe congestion, the President acknowledged, which has resulted in a reduced numbers of ships waiting to berth from 60 ships at a time to 12.

The President also revealed that as part of overhauling the freight rail system, private rail operators will be allowed access to the rail network. As the current conflict in the Middle East is affecting shipping traffic through the Suez Canal, South Africa is well-positioned to offer bunkering services for ships that will be rerouted via South Africa’s shores.


Jabulani Majozi 

9 February 2024