Eskom’s load-shedding crisis costing the country R1 billion a day – Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe. Picture Brenton Geach

Gwede Mantashe. Picture Brenton Geach

Published Feb 7, 2023


Johannesburg - Eskom’s load-shedding crisis is costing the country’s economy R1 billion a day, says Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Addressing delegates at the opening of the annual African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, he offered the assurance that government was working on a plan to resolve the embattled utility’s power supply problems within the next 12 months.

Mantashe said key focus areas to stem load shedding included maintenance of existing power stations, buying electricity from neighbouring countries and improving the skill capacity at Eskom.

Resolving the energy crisis was the government’s biggest task in order to boost the country’s economy, which had suffered as a result of rolling blackouts that have seen the country implement Stages 4 to 6 load shedding since the start of last year.

"At the centre of our current energy challenges is the decline in the energy availability factor (EAF) from an estimated 75% to 49%. Therefore, the most feasible and logical option... to resolve load shedding is by arresting the decline in the EAF," Mantashe said.

South Africa’s energy crisis is expected to dominate discussions at the event, which has attracted more than 7 000 delegates from about 100 countries.

Minerals and energy deputy director general Ntokozo Ngcwabe said the country would not abandon coal as it moved to a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

South Africa’s electricity supply would continue to be dependent on coal-fired power stations, as talks with investors continued in a bid to stabilise the country’s energy supply.

"Firstly, the government is committed to just transition. However, what we are saying is that the reality of the country is that our electricity is highly generated from coal-fired power stations. So, our transition from that high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy isn’t going to happen overnight. Coal is still going to be with us for quite some time, while we move to our just-transition journey to a lower carbon economy and while we move to decommissioning some of the coal-fired power plants," Ngcwabe said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address delegates later today, following the release of his energy action plan of more than two weeks ago.

After his consultative meetings on the electricity crisis with various social partners and the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM), Ramaphosa said the key to resolving the energy crisis was "staying the course" instead of coming up with unsustainable short-term solutions.

According to the latest figures, mining output is down 9% compared to November 2021, and 0.4% compared to October last year, due to load shedding.

According to Statistics South Africa, the decrease in output is fairly broad-based, with notable decreases recorded in platinum group minerals (PGMs), iron ore and diamonds.

The Star