SA Declares Energy Crisis State of Disaster; Ministry of Electricity Established

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The declaration enables the government to implement emergency measures to not only address the crisis but the impacts load shedding has and continues to cause on society.

“The state of disaster will enable us to provide practical measures that we need to take to support businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain, including for the rollout of generators, solar panels and uninterrupted power supply,” stated President Ramaphosa, adding that, “It will enable us to accelerate energy projects and limit regulatory requirements while maintaining rigorous environmental protections, procurement principles and technical standards.”

Further, the declaration will “enable us, where technically possible, to exempt critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants from loadshedding,” he added. With the crisis costing the South African economy approximately R900 million per day, according to Central Bank estimates, these measures aim to directly address rolling blackouts by introducing reforms that the government has already embarked upon.

“There are now more than 100 projects, which are expected to provide over 9,000 MW of new capacity over time. A number of companies that have participated in the renewable energy program will soon enter construction and deliver a total of 2,800 MW of new capacity. Eskom will procure emergency power that can be deployed within six months to close the immediate gap. We are investing in new transmission lines and substations…all of these measures will result in a massive increase in power to the grid over the next 12 to 18 months and beyond,” stated the President.

Ministry of Electricity Established

In addition to a National State of Disaster, President Ramaphosa announced the creation of a dedicated Ministry of Electricity, whose sole focus is to deal with the crisis.

“To deal more efficiently and urgently with the challenges that confront us, I will appoint a Minister of Electricity in the Presidency to assume full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the electricity crisis response, including the work of the National Energy Crisis Committee. The Minister will focus full-time and work with the Eskom board and management on ending load shedding and ensuring that the Energy Action Plan is implemented without delay,” he added.

The Ministry of Electricity will be charged with working closely with state utility Eskom to tackle issues of procurement, generation, transmission and distribution, while “the Minister of Public Enterprises will remain the shareholders representative of Eskom and steer the restructuring of Eskom,” the President stated. Through this dedicated Ministry, the government will be better equipped to end loadshedding for good.

“The process of restructuring the government will give us an opportunity to determine the positioning of various areas of responsibilities and how best the various ministries and departments can best serve our national objectives…This is necessary because an effective response to the crisis involves several different departments and entities that require coordination from the center of government.”

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