South Africa’s newly appointed electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is reaching out to other nations in a bid to address the ongoing energy crisis plaguing the country. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Ramokgopa explained that he is seeking insight from countries that have successfully tackled their own energy challenges.
- South Africa’s electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is seeking assistance from China, Germany, and Vietnam to address the country’s energy crisis and end load shedding.
- Ramokgopa plans to collaborate on technical expertise, solar power training, micro-grid implementation, and emergency power sourcing to tackle the issue.
- Despite recent improvements in Eskom’s power generation fleet, Ramokgopa warns that the energy crisis may worsen due to increasing electricity demand in winter and fluctuations in power station performance.
Earlier this week, Ramokgopa met with the Chinese ambassador to explore a potential collaboration aimed at putting an end to load shedding. This partnership would encompass obtaining technical expertise, training South African youth in solar power installation, implementing micro-grids, and procuring emergency power supplies.
Ramokgopa stated, “We are speaking to the Germans, Americans, World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and of course we met with the Chinese ambassador, and it’s essentially to know, of all of these countries, where is the area expertise, and where can we get the quickest assistance.” The minister also plans to engage with the Vietnamese ambassador, as Vietnam has successfully addressed blackouts by installing 9,000 MW of rooftop solar within just 12 months.
These discussions come at a time when South Africa has experienced a temporary reprieve from load shedding, with suspensions lasting from 05h00 to 16h00 on March 19. As reported by City Press, the electricity minister emphasized that resolving the energy crisis is a top priority for all ministers involved with Eskom, South Africa’s primary electricity provider.
Upon taking office, Ramokgopa promptly met with finance minister Enoch Godongwana, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, and the minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe. Ramakgopa shared that all three ministers acknowledged the urgency of the load shedding issue and pledged their support by providing the necessary resources to address the crisis.
Ramokgopa also highlighted the distinct responsibilities of each minister: Mantahse oversees the policy direction of minerals and resources, while Gordhan, as a shareholder representative, liaises with the Eskom board concerning the utility’s performance and finances. Meanwhile, Ramokgopa’s role is focused on implementation and ensuring operational efficiency at power plants.
Eskom has recently reported improvements in its power generation fleet. Last week, the power utility announced that its six coal-fired power stations achieved an energy availability factor of 70%, a milestone last reached in May 2022. Despite being in the early stages of progress, Eskom maintained that the recovery of these six power stations demonstrated a positive overall trajectory.
However, Ramokgopa warned that the energy crisis may worsen, as the performance of the six coal-fired power stations dropped to 40% just one day after the reported improvement. He criticized the monopoly’s celebration of such an achievement as “just an illustration of the crisis” and cautioned that power outages may continue to escalate as electricity demand increases during the winter months, potentially exacerbating the dire energy situation even further.