LBC executives say they stand against ’white monopoly capital’ or any other hurdles to the project, which they believe represents a silver lining for emerging and medium businesses. Picture:Bongani Mbatha, ANA.
LBC executives say they stand against ’white monopoly capital’ or any other hurdles to the project, which they believe represents a silver lining for emerging and medium businesses. Picture:Bongani Mbatha, ANA.

NMB business community backs Karpowership power generation

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Oct 11, 2021

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THE Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality Local Business Committee (LBC) has drawn a firm line in the sand in support of the Karpowership electricity generation project.

The LBC executives, in an online media briefing on Friday, said they stood against "white monopoly capital" or any others who delayed the project, and believed the electricity generation vessels represented a silver lining for emerging and medium (EME) businesses, which could gain from supply contracts over the 20-year period of the project.

The LBC scoffed at environmental impact assessment reports or supply agreements with Eskom, the missing links this far in the project, saying the community did not benefit from fishing activities off the bay, and that the ocean economy there benefited only "white monopoly capital“.

"LBC executives chairperson Glen Mphumezi Tsomo,  secretary Masixole Mashelele, Olga Speelman, Simphiwe Jama and others told the media they would be marching on Wednesday to represent the 5 217 business community that was against the delay of the project off the Nelson Mandela Bay shores.

"This opportunity will benefit us and our children. There will be supply contracts for a variety of services and an end to the sporadic supply of electricity which leads to load shedding," the executives said.

The LBC is eyeing opportunities in the supply chain including perishables, security and skills development, among others.

"Look at the Transnet, on paper they claim to use local supplies, but people from as far as Bloemfontein end up supplying them, we want a 100 percent Nelson Mandela Bay supply chain, and this is what we will get from the Karpowership project.

Do not tell us about fish and penguins, the harbours are our mines just like other mining towns rely on their mines, " executives said.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) last month granted three generating licences for floating powership provider Karpowership SA in Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay despite an ongoing legal fight and environmental concerns.

Turkey-headquartered Karpowership is the owner, operator and builder of the first powership fleet in the world. A powership is a floating power plant that generates electricity.

However, Karpowership SA will need further approvals before it can connect to the grid. Nersa’s decision comes after Karpowership’s applications were refused environmental approval by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Eenvironment in June.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said in a statement it wanted to see Nersa’s reasons for approving the controversial Karpowership generation licences.

Nersa said the decision and the reasons for it will be made available in due course.

Outa said it was unacceptable that Nersa has approved generation licences, but failed to provide the public with reasons immediately.

According to Outa, the 20-year, power-supply deal, which will provide 1 220MW of energy through floating storage and regasification power plants, could cost up to R218 billion.

Outa said it is inexplicable that Nersa granted the Karpowership licences while there were so many questions about the process and the Karpowership projects.

These concerns include: Environmental authorisation that had been refused by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, an internal appeal process by Karpowership was still under way challenging the decision by department.

Other concerns were the absence of a fuel-supply agreement, the absence of a fuel-pipeline licence, the absence of port authorisation, Eskom had not agreed to enter into a power-purchase agreement, and a legal challenge under way alleging failure of due process, including corruption and nepotism, scheduled to be heard by the court in early December.

“The public has a right to know why these decisions are made. These reasons are also required if the decisions are to be challenged in court. This lack of transparency has been an ongoing problem in this process,” Outa said in its statement.

The LBC said that it was intent on removing any obstacles to the start of the project,which they believed would eliminate load shedding and also provide opportunities for the communities with as much as 70 percent unemployment rates among the youth.

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