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LISTEN | Ramaphosa ‘anxious and keen’ to address nation on Eskom: Vincent Magwenya

14 July 2022 - 12:50
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says President Cyril Rampahosa will address the nation soon on a plan to reduce the scale of load-shedding.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says President Cyril Rampahosa will address the nation soon on a plan to reduce the scale of load-shedding.
Image: Presidency.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation soon on Eskom and load-shedding, his spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said on Thursday.  

Magwenya confirmed Ramaphosa is working on a plan to reduce the scale of rolling blackouts.

“Not just a plan, but a plan that can give some hope that even if the president does not say that load-shedding will end tomorrow, the nation must have a sense that there is a credible plan that’s been worked on. It is sound and there is a sense of urgency to implement that plan.”

Ramaphosa has been under pressure to formulate a solution that will see an end to load-shedding which has cost the country billions.

Eskom recently implemented stage 6 load-shedding after the loss of more than 18,000MW of generation capacity due to unit breakdowns and a strike by employees.

LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAD TO SAY: 

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa cited the agreement between Eskom and labour unions as important to enable critical repairs and return units to operation.

Ramaphosa has had a series of meetings with Eskom management, ministers and energy experts to craft a viable plan.

“There is no option that’s off the table. All options are on the table and being considered and, ultimately, you will have to have to culminate from this process that has to be presented to the nation. That will happen much sooner than later,” said Magwenya.

Adding more capacity to the grid was imperative.

“That’s what will reduce the scale of load-shedding. The regulatory and permit processes that can take up to three years need to be drastically expedited and simplified to enable urgent investments into renewables.

“There are a number of elements involved in the permit and approval process when effecting renewable projects. You have an environmental impact assessments, there are National Energy Regulator of SA processes, the department of minerals and energy has its own processes and Eskom has its own compliance processes.”

Some of the work involved looking at ways to speed up procurement and approval processes.

“It will be easier for them to plug into the grid and the one thing the president does not want is to come up with something that will immediately be litigated against because it’s found to not be in line with the laws of the constitution. There is a lot of legal work in the work stream to ensure that whatever instruments used to expedite processes are appropriate and do not fall foul of existing laws.

“This stage 6 is not the first time we are facing this crisis. Between now and going forward, whether it’s stage 6 or stage 1, it can no longer be business as usual.

“That is what the president is saying, that this problem did not just start with an illegal strike and then stage 6. It’s been a problem for 14 years and we need to completely change our mindset and appreciate the sense of urgency that’s required to resolve this problem.

“What we can say for now is that we can reduce the scale of load-shedding by bringing more megawatts into the grid which will alleviate the extent of load-shedding.”

Processes had to be hugely accelerated to add more capacity to the grid. “They cannot be handled the same way that they have been handled. For example the bid windows have to reach close much quicker.”

Magwenya said load-shedding has had a devastating impact on businesses and households.

“The price of food has gone up and people buy food and food gets spoilt in their fridges, so the impact is devastating. And this is something the president is very much alive to.”

He said Ramaphosa supported Eskom’s decision to explore options to attract the skills it requires, including activating retired engineers and people who used to work at Eskom to bring back institutional knowledge.

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