Energy Minister Jeff Radebe urged business to support government in ensuring that South Africa’s energy transition is a “just” one for labour, especially those operating in the coal-mining sector.
In an engagement on Friday with business leaders in Johannesburg, following a meeting of the energy ministers from the Brics bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa the day earlier, Radebe said a collaborative effort was required to ensure that labour was not “left behind”.
A Cabinet-approved draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be released “soon” for public comment ahead of final promulgation in August.
The updated IRP would improve policy certainty for investors, in line with government’s vision of ensuring that energy investments contributed 25% of the $100-billion investment target set by President Cyril Ramaphosa for the coming five years.
The plan is expected to include higher levels of private participation in power generation, as well as to enlarge the role of both renewable energy and natural gas in South Africa’s electricity mix.
However, Radebe stressed that, for the energy transition to succeed, it needed to be aligned with the National Development Plan’s goals of eliminating poverty, raising employment and reducing inequality.
Besides articulating a clear vision for the country’s energy transition, Radebe argued that the social partners needed to clearly define the roles that should be played by government, business and labour and communities in the transition.
“For the energy transition to be just, we must also ensure that we do not leave labour behind.
“We need to especially consider the effects of the energy transition on the mining economy and we need to find ways of transitioning those economies and affected areas to newer, more sustainable models over the coming period.”
Radebe urged the business community to ensure that energy-related investments were pursued in a way that was increasingly supportive of black, women and youth empowerment.