South Africa to seek solutions to electricity constraints


26 March 2015

A summit would be convened “soon” to discuss solutions to the current electricity challenges facing the country, according to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Responding to questions for oral reply at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 25 March, he said Eskom had also deployed its most senior managers to power stations to ensure that plants were managed effectively to avert failure.

The decision to hold the summit emanated from his meeting with representatives of Business Leadership South Africa in Pretoria on 20 March. They discussed the electricity supply constraints and other issues affecting the state power utility

“When we met, we were able to hear their [business sector] proposals. One of the things that came out of that is that I am going to convene a summit with all the stakeholders and that summit will come up with a number of proposals to deal with the problems facing Eskom,” Ramaphosa said.

The summit, which would involve business, labour and other affected stakeholders, would examine electricity challenges with the aim of coming up with proposals to further help in addressing the problems.

War Room

After a Cabinet meeting in December 2014, the government established an energy war room to attend to Eskom’s short- and long-term energy challenges at a time when the country was faced with load shedding.

Then, in his State of the Nation Address in February, President Jacob Zuma announced a five-point plan to assist the power utility. Ramaphosa said progress had been made in implementing the five-point plan.

“Progress is being made with all elements of the five-point plan to address the electricity challenge that our country faces at the moment. Eskom has taken steps to improve the maintenance and operation of our power stations. including the deployment of senior managers to our power stations.

“It was the process of the war room that a decision was taken that senior managers should be deployed to power stations and that they should not only be at air- conditioned offices in Megawatt Park,” he said.

Over and above the announcement by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown on the successful synchronisation of the Medupi power plant on to the grid, the government was also renewing several cogeneration contracts with the private sector.

This, he said, showed that Eskom was serious about dealing with the electricity problems in the short-term.

Constrained supply

Friday’s meeting was held at the request of business with a view to helping the government to address difficulties arising from the constrained supply of electricity, as well as issues affecting Eskom, said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa.

The deputy minister would continue to meet “key stakeholders” to discuss Eskom, and he would provide feedback on interventions at Eskom to National Economic Development and Labour Council social partners soon.

“The War Room on Eskom has held several meetings with stakeholders, including Business Unity South Africa, which counts the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry among its members. [It] will continue meeting with stakeholders and welcomes suggestions from all sectors regarding the way forward on Eskom,” said Mamoepa.

The War Room was responsible for implementing Zuma’s five-point plan to deal with electricity challenges. Ramaphosa had appointed a six-member independent panel of experts to advise him on current challenges facing Eskom and to develop proposals for a way forward, his spokesman added.