Ramokgopa says assessment will determine what powers he needs to close 10 GW electricity deficit

Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

7th March 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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Newly-appointed Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, reports that he will conduct an assessment over the coming seven to 14 days to help determine what powers he will request President Cyril Ramaphosa to transfer to him to tackle a supply deficit of about 10 000 MW.

Ramokgopa’s deficit estimate, which he communicated during an interview on SAfm, is larger than the 4 000 MW to 6 000 MW shortfall previously communicated by Eskom and implies that the energy availability factor of the coal fleet is unlikely to recover as strongly as has been suggested by other government leaders.

When announcing Ramokgopa’s appointment, the President said he would transfer certain powers and functions contained in relevant legislation to the new Minister in the Presidency in line with Section 97 of the Constitution.

“The President did announce to the country that there will be powers that will be given to the Minister,” Ramokgopa acknowledged during the radio interview.

“But I think it is important that in the next seven to 14 days, and once we have engaged with the major players in this space, both the generation side and also the demand side … to come back and say what are those powers that we require to enable us to discharge the responsibility,” he said.

The powers given to the new Minister will be closely watched, as there is concern about overlapping responsibilities and the potential for conflicts, particularly with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Mantashe has already described the role of the Minister of Electricity as that of a “project manager”, which appeared to be reinforced by Ramokgopa, who emphasised that he would be formulating an “implementation strategy” for the Energy Action Plan announced by Ramaphosa on July 25.

“I'm not introducing any new plan … What I'm doing is to formulate the implementation strategy,” he said, adding that he did not see the electricity crisis as a policy problem, but rather as “technical implementation problem”.

“I'll be transfixed on resolving the technical issues, and almost free myself from the political space.”

Once sworn in he intended having detailed, plant level engagements with Eskom to understand what was required to improve performance.

He would then seek specific commitments from power station managers should he intervene, using his new powers, to clear blockages, including those related to procurement rules.

Likewise, he would meet with independent power producers that were still struggling to progress their projects to financial close, as well as with large companies facing constraints in taking full advantage of the recent lifting of the generation cap on so-called embedded generation projects that can proceed without a licence.

On the demand side, meanwhile, the new Minister aimed to work with financial institutions to find funding solutions to stimulate investments by small businesses and households into solar panels, inverters and batteries.

Ramogkopa would also have discussions about the prospect of warehousing these components so as to ensure that their availability was not a constraint to deployment.

On corruption, Ramokgopa indicated he intended taking an approach that was solution oriented, rather than diagnostic.

“We're beyond describing the problem, we're at the stage of implementing.

“The impatience and anger by our people is justified,” he said, adding that his “sole focus is to resolve the loadshedding problem” by adding 10 000 MW to the grid.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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