Ed’s note: ‘Live’ from African Utility Week


Coming to you directly from African Utility Week, this week’s editors note is very African focussed.

Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, said that in light of the happenings of the few days, and in the wake of the national and provincial elections in South Africa, this year’s African Utility Week was well timed, giving all a chance to recommit to the objectives of diversification of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water use and  increasing job creation and lower the cost for energy.

As one of the highest per capita users of electricity globally, Radebe said there are still too many South African’s without access to energy.

An intensive capital investment cycle into the power sector has started given the critical nature of energy to the South African economy. As a developing economy, poverty is often related access to energy and we need to develop value creating industry to contribute to energy development.

South Africa is the most unequal society in which to live and in efforts to combat this situation, in 2018, President  Ramaphosa set significant investment targets to stimulate investment and economic growth.

South Africa’s IPP programme has sent out strong signals for energy investment and the successful implementation of a number of bidding rounds has resulted in investment of over R250 billion to date.

The financing of economic infrastructure is an uphill battle. Trade remains tight, but it is vital for African organisation to find ways to increase access to financing.

The South African government has Identified interconnection and integration into SADC as one of the appropriate strategies to spur economic growth. Radebe said that we cannot compromise the 150 million people in SADC. Energy security will be enhanced through regional development and integration. In order for this to happen, we need to work with partner countries to ensure secure development and affordable energy carriers to unleash Africa’s economic potential.

Africa is well-endowed with natural resources but we need to eradicate energy poverty and uplift the standard of living for all her people.

Proposed projects include interconnectors, hydropower, gas, thermal, wind projects.

Radebe further mentioned that the Integrated Resource Plan policy blue print and update will be concluded shortly. The government is engaging with social partners and getting their final strategies aligned.

It is estimated that in order for all the power requirements for South Africa to be met, more than R1 trillion is needed by 2030 to upgrade infrastructure and generation systems.  However, the need for infrastructure is critical and Radebe made note of the need to ensure African governments pursue innovative funding options to further their development agendas.

As the stakeholders work to incorporate new and evolving business models into the South African and African landscapes, Radebe highlighted one key element – we must have no fear as we explore these new business models, and consider the skills needed for our energy future. We must however, prepare the youth for the future.

This is the first of many updates that will be coming out of African Utility Week. If you are reading this from elsewhere in the world, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the first day’s keynote and other things African energy related.

Until next week!