Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi File picture: Immah Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Minister of Energy Mmamoloko Kubayi has said the country was yet to take full advantage of opportunities provided by the global shift to gas economies as 65% of the country’s energy was still derived from coal.

Kubayi said the current trend was changing things as more countries were beginning to shift to gas energy.

She said South Africa had to follow the same path to be able to compete and be in line with world standards.

“The conversion of coal to energy is also the highest single contributor to South Africa’s carbon footprint. We must be able to shift to gas and we can play a leading role in the South African region by partnering with the countries to grow our economies in this growing sector,” she said. 

Gas is playing an important role in helping countries lower their carbon emissions, which became a higher priority in light of the recent COP 21 agreement in Paris, France.

Kubayi said the country needed to limit its reliance on coal and explore other avenues to generate power, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We can source gas from the countries in the region, like Mozambique. It would become a win-win situation as both countries stand to benefit through job creation and improved infrastructure,” Kubayi added.

Mozambique discovered major gas reserves off the Rovuma Basin in the northern province of Cabo Delgado in 2010 and was moving forward with the generation of gas energy. 

With South Africa having taken some heavy blows during 2007 and 2008, when power outages became the norm, the country has realised that it needs to diversify its electricity sources.

Kubayi said investing in a gas economy had its advantages as this was a growing sector. “LNG supply is set to increase by 50 percent in the next five years and it has the ability to grow even further in the next 20 years,” Kubayi said.

She added that the government’s national development plan also recognises the importance of the gas economy. “For the country to realise its LNG goals, we need to work hand in hand with the other stakeholders, such as the private sector.

“The fiscal has a limited space. The private sector will have to come on board.”

Kubayi was addressing more than 200 delegates, which included government officials, gas developers and institutional investors who gathered in Durban for an international gas co-operation summit (IGCS) yesterday.

South Africa and Mozambique have committed to working together in developing the gas pipelines in the region. Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Augusto de Sousa Fernando said his country has seen a huge demand for gas power in the last 13 years.

“The demand for natural gas has been increasing since 2004 in our country. It’s one of the reasons we’re developing a gas pipeline between Mozambique and South Africa to meet this demand,” said De Sousa Fernando.

-BUSINESS REPORT