Pretoria - German Chancellor Angela Merkel began her official visit to South Africa in Tshwane on Thursday as both countries made energy security a priority in their bilateral discussions.
Merkel's visit comes as South Africa continues to battle with rolling blackouts as a result of load shedding that is testing the patience of both the public and investors.
"We have had an informative discussion on energy," President Cyril Ramaphosa told the media at a joint press briefing.
"South Africa is on a journey to ensure mixed energy where coal will still play a key role in our economy, but renewables will also play an important role."
"Germany has moved away from coal to renewables and are looking forward to 2038 when coal won't be used, whereas in South Africa we are 89% reliant on coal. We can learn from Germany's experience of transition and what happened to coal-fired power stations.
“We need to ensure that as our old coal-fired power stations come to the end of their life, that we ensure workers and communities have a just transition," Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa emphasized the government's decision to allow for self-generation on the part of cities and companies which can now generate their own energy.
Meanwhile, later on Thursday evening, there was excitement in the air when more than 200 University of Pretoria students welcomed Merkel to the Future Africa campus.
The students were invited from faculties across the university, said they felt honored to meet one of the world’s most powerful leaders.
The event was hosted by UP Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tawana Kupe, and Merkel was accompanied by Germany’s Ambassador to South Africa, Martin Schäfer.
It followed a busy day starting with an official meeting between Merkel and Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings, a media conference and a visit to the BMW factory in Rosslyn.
Merkel had requested the event as she said she likes to engage with students in countries she visits. The event was moderated by Dr Sithembile Mbete.
Merkel spoke of the potential for student exchanges between South Africa and Germany.
Foreign Desk / Pretoria News