(In the Pic - President Jacob Zuma, addressing Parliament). State of the Nation Address, National Assembly, Parliament of the republic of South Africa, Cape Town. 17/06/2014, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Cape Town - Expanding the energy sector and renewing South Africa’s creaking infrastructure will be a key focus to give the economy a much needed boost, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

He said the radical transformation of the energy sector would be wide ranging and include coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas and nuclear energy.

“The successful electrification programme which has changed the lives of many households was achieved by tapping into artificial electricity reserves, which had not been designed to cater for mass energy distribution,” he said.

Zuma was speaking during his State of the Nation Address.

The government is betting on shale gas and the Grand Inga dam as its two big ticket energy investments. The shale gas exploration will dismay environmentalists who believe fracking will put pressure on the country’s poor water resources

In October last year the government signed the Grand Inga Hydro Power Project Treaty with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has the potential to generate 40 000 megawatts of hydro-electricity.

“Our country will benefit enormously from this milestone project,” Zuma said.

The country’s main power supplier, Eskom, has been under increasing pressure to deliver. Load shedding has already occurred this winter, with the latest round taking place in parts of South Africa while Zuma was delivering his speech.

“The sub-committee will also ensure that Eskom receives the support it requires to fulfil its mandate and that it remains focused on achieving its goals and targets,” he said.

“There are also some urgent activities that we are engaging in, in the short term. Progress at Medupi power station construction site will be accelerated. Pllans on the financing of the next large coal fired power station, Coal 3, will be speeded up so that the procurement process can commence.”

During the past five years, the country has invested about R1-trillion rand in new infrastructure to provide water, energy, transport, sanitation, schools and clinics and internet connections.

Over the next three years, it will spend R847-billion rand on the infrastructure development.

Political Bureau