During the ANC Gauteng's interaction with the party's National Working Committee at the Turffontein Racecourse, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his optimism that South Africa's persistent energy crisis will be a thing of the past by 2024.
The President acknowledged the critical issue of energy shortages and emphasised that the government is taking decisive steps to tackle it.
President Ramaphosa addressed the issue of energy with determination, stating, "Energy has been a great drawback to us, but we are working on it, and we are certain that by 2024, the energy crisis will be over as we ramp up more energy generation, and now we have to attend to the transmission."
Poor Maintenance and Municipal Debt Among The Root Causes
During the weekly Energy Action Plan briefing held in Pretoria last week, Minister of Electricity Dr. Kgosientso Ramokgopa identified some of the key reasons behind the energy crisis. He emphasised that poor maintenance practices and a lack of servicing debt are major contributing factors to communities going without electricity, even long after load-shedding periods.
Minister Ramokgopa disclosed that municipalities owe Eskom a staggering R63.2 billion, adding that some municipalities have entered into agreements to pay their debts. However, concerns arise as some of these municipalities have defaulted on their arrangements, failing to make payments as agreed.
Impact on Unemployment
Acknowledging the profound impact of energy instability on South Africa's socio economic landscape, President Ramaphosa revealed that the country's weakened energy security has negatively affected its ability to address ongoing unemployment.
The most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) reported a 0.3% decrease in the country's unemployment rate during the second quarter of 2023, indicating that approximately 150,000 people found employment.
As a result, the unemployment rate dropped from 32.9% in the first quarter to the current 32.6%. The President underscored the urgency of resolving the energy crisis to foster economic growth and create jobs.
Gauteng province, South Africa's economic hub, has been one of the regions most severely affected by load-shedding. Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, assured the public that the issue will be fully resolved by January of the coming year.
Fast-Tracking Renewable and Emergency Power Projects
In a statement released on 31 July, President Ramaphosa detailed the government's proactive approach to addressing the energy crisis.
He outlined plans to fast-track the procurement of new generation capacity from renewables, gas, and battery storage. Notably, the President announced that the first three projects from the emergency power program are expected to connect to the grid later this year.
With these measures in place and a determined effort to tackle the root causes of the energy crisis, the country is poised to see significant improvements in its energy stability and economic prospects.