Reenergising ourselves as the livewire of Africa

South Africa is at the cusp of a social revolution, a turning point at which good is shown to triumph over the wrongs of the past. As we watch the Eskom board change and its senior executives being held accountable for the mismanagement of billions of rand; and rejoice over the political changes following the appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as head of the country’s ruling party, we realise that South Africa can reinvent itself for the good of all its people.

Dr. Urishanie Govender

As these changes develop, the energy sector can expect to see many benefits in the short- to medium-term, including increased investor confidence, stronger political certainty, an end to corruption in high places, wider access to electricity, an energy mix based on people’s needs rather than the greed of politicians or companies, more independent power projects, and the redirection of state funds into infrastructure spend.

We have good reason for this confidence. As part of the social revolution, we expect government to do the right thing and address the country’s leadership challenges thereby strengthening political certainty and improve investor confidence. The feedback we received from the World Economic Forum in Davos recently shows an improvement in investor perception of the country.

The choice of new electricity-generating technologies (nuclear, coal, gas, and renewables) must be informed by transparent sustainability criteria. Importantly, efficient use of resources must be used to address the energy demands of the country. We hope to see an increased call for renewable energy projects as part of the IPP programmes and an increase in private sector participation from current investment levels. To meet the target set out in the National Development Plan, 30% of state funds needs to be redirected into infrastructure projects.

Eskom’s monopoly has irrevocably ended and IPPs must take an increasing share of the electricity-generation market in South Africa. Reducing renewable energy costs and improved investor confidence make this inevitable.

We hope to see more ambitious and effective infrastructure and investment policies which will also improve the inter-connectivity of electricity systems across Africa. We expect the implementation of existing Southern African Developing Countries (SADC) protocols and agreements to be strengthened and improved for the advancement of integration, trade and job creation. This will result in an increase in energy projects across Africa.

Increased business opportunities, arising from strengthening entrepreneurial intentions, will boost job creation and improve the standard of living for millions of South Africans. New skills sets will be required to manage new relationships and interfaces. Energy players will help to develop the country’s young people while supporting small businesses to address our current skills shortages through mentorship and enterprise development programmes.

South Africans have a passion to thrive economically and for the country to emerge as the livewire of Africa. They will continue to be the heroes who ask challenging questions which bring about much needed transparency and stakeholder confidence.

The social revolution will hold the country’s president accountable to his commitment in Davos that South Africa is being renewed and is open for business and investment. We have begun a new era and must keep moving forward. As energy players, we have much to look forward to.

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