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Minister Mantashe defends SA’s economic recovery plan

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has defended South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

MINERAL Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday defended South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that critics have labelled as “unconvincing”.

At the African Union Commission International Energy Agency Second Ministerial Forum held virtually on Wednesday, Mantashe said the plan was not limited to providing macro-economic analysis.

“It is also giving targets and responsibilities to sectors in the productive economy. And our argument is that unless we drive and develop productive economic sectors, we are not going to see overall growth,” said Mantashe.

The second edition of the forum was aimed at agreeing on and promoting actions to ensure a sustainable economic recovery and scale up of energy investments in Africa over the next three years. Mantashe said putting targets to the productive sectors of the economy was practical.

Mantashe said that during the lockdown the country chose to have energy operating at full capacity. However, as mine production declined, the supply also declined, not because it was locked down, but because mining decreased.

Mantashe said: “We discovered that mining is now 2.5 percent below pre-Covid levels. It has recovered because we were very systematic in our approach. Energy is lagging behind. We are still waiting for the third quarter to see if we are recovering. To us, the most important thing is a V-shaped recovery curve as opposed to a dog-leg recovery curve, which is not as convincing.”

Mantashe said the impact of Covid-19 on the economy was drastic and hard, deepening poverty and unemployment. He said a strong economic recovery was possible through a determined targeted action that restored economic growth and protects livelihood. Target implementation must take place in a clearly identified area to bring urgent stabilisation, stimulate growth, build confidence and enhance competitiveness, he said.

Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, said that in addition to developing public-private-partnerships they had invited financial institutions to work hand-in-hand with fellow African countries to share their experiences and best practices.

He also said that while mobilising investment for developing the power system was challenging but achievable.

“We need to strengthen co-operation between countries and regional depth in continental organisations and executions. It is important to ensure that while developing our infrastructure in Africa we ensure we are climate resilient. We must go for practical co-operation in capacity building, knowledge transfer and best practice and experience sharing,” he said.

He said that Africa must go for a green and low carbon energy sector in a way that allowed higher economic growth to be sustainable and inclusive.

AUC Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid said that Covid-19 pandemic had induced the largest drop of investments in the energy sector in the continent in 2020 compared to 2020. She said that capital investments in the sector would fall by 30 percent this year.

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