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Ramaphosa addresses room of top CEOs on investing in South Africa – just as Eskom announces more load shedding

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President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged further reforms to South Africa’s energy sector in his keynote address at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday (10 May). Shortly afterwards, power utility Eskom announced that it would be forced to reintroduce stage 2 load shedding on Tuesday evening.

Speaking to top executives in the mining sector, Ramaphosa noted the government had made important regulatory reforms over the last year to facilitate new electricity generation by the mining and other sectors.

“Regulations have been amended to allow companies to invest in new generation capacity of up to 100MW without needing to apply for a licence. We are working to further cut red tape for the registration of projects, to accelerate environmental approvals and to strengthen the capacity of Eskom and municipalities to link such projects to the grid.”

According to the Minerals Council South Africa, around 4,000MW or R65 billion of such electricity generation capacity investment is in the pipeline, the president said.

“South Africa’s energy landscape is being fundamentally transformed to introduce greater competition, more diverse energy sources and greater energy security into the future.

“The unbundling Eskom into separate entities for transmission, distribution and generation is on track, and is set to be completed later this year.”

Ramaphosa added that the mining sector has an important role in South Africa’s just energy transition. As the country’s reliance on coal is reduced, pathways toward new economic activity needed to be created for workers in affected industries, he said.

“As we confront the reality of energy insecurity and the development of new energy sources, it is critical that South Africa, like all developing economies, be given the necessary developmental space. Countries on the African continent need to be able to explore and extract oil and gas in an environmentally-responsible and sustainable manner.

“These resources are important for energy security, for social and economic development, and for reducing energy poverty on the continent.”

Return of load shedding

Ramaphosa’s keynote address was particularly hard-hitting as power utility Eskom alerted the nation that it would be forced to reintroduce stage 2 load shedding on Tuesday as the president spoke.

Eskom said stage 2 load shedding will again be implemented from 17h00 – 22h00 on Tuesday evening (10 May). The power utility warned of the possibility of higher stages should any further breakdowns occur during the day.

“The onset of winter has seen increased demand and this will lead to severe capacity constraints throughout this period, particularly during the evening and morning peaks. Unfortunately, this would generally require the implementation of load shedding during the evening peaks.

“Tonight stage 2 load shedding will be implemented between 17h00 and 22h00, with the possibility of higher stages should any further generation unit breakdowns occur before then.”

Eskom said a generation unit each at the Kusile and Arnot power stations are expected to return to service this afternoon. Since yesterday evening, a unit each at Arnot, Grootvlei and Matla power stations either tripped or were taken offline for repairs. At the same time two units were returned to service; one each at Kriel and Grootvlei power stations.

Eskom said it currently has 3,049MW on planned maintenance, while another 15,762MW of capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns.

Read: Eskom brings back load shedding on Tuesday – here is the schedule