Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has weighed in on the debate about ongoing power outages in the country and their impact on economic growth, saying that he needed electricity into the grid no matter where it might come from.
FINANCE Minister Enoch Godongwana has weighed in on the debate about ongoing power outages in the country and their impact on economic growth, saying that he needed electricity into the grid no matter where it might come from.
Power supplier Eskom has been a threat to economic growth as it battles to keep the lights on due to its ageing coal-fired power plants that experience frequent breakdowns due to rising demand.
Speaking at the South African Jewish Board of Deputies national conference on Sunday night, Godongwana pointed out that Eskom had imposed outages on South Africa for 13 years now.
He said that the government had tried but failed to fix Eskom in those years.
“l want power to the grid, who gives it is immaterial,” he said.
Godongwana said creating hope in South Africa rested on building the economy, as well as a common understanding of the key challenges of recovery and reconstruction.
The minister reaffirmed the need for South Africa to implement structural reforms for the economy to grow, saying that enacting structural reforms was his department’s key objective.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown everyone that all sectors across South Africa could work together, but what was lacking were key areas of engagement.
This as policy decisions usually take long to implement due to differences of opinion between the government, business, and labour stakeholders at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
“If we can take a lesson from Covid-19, all South Africans worked together,” he said. “That in itself shows that there’s positive commitment among all South Africans. The key question is how do we marshal into the right energy.”
Responding to Godongwana, Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter said the power utility was a technically insolvent business that was “failing its customers”.
He said a cleaner and greener future that lessens South Africa’s dependency on coal would save the fiscus R300 billion that has to be spent rehabilitating coal power stations.
“Eskom is an old car that we can’t expect to go for another 20 years without a transition to new technologies in a phased approach. In fact, its fleet and equipment has an average age of 41 years,” he said.
“South Africa needs 4,000MW to 6, 000MW of new capacity added to the grid to support economic growth.”
– BUSINESS REPORT