In an attempt to allay fears of an impending crisis in the area of energy, South African President, Jacob Zuma revealed to his ‘Fellow South Africans’ that his government had its finger on things and was in the process of dealing with them. He made these assurances when he presented his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday evening.
In a statement that was cut off as it started because of disturbances by members of the opposition, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), as they sought to find out when the President would pay back the money as directed by the Public Protector, Zuma told the parliament of mainly his ruling African National Congress (ANC), that his government would be giving the power utility, Eskom, R23 billion rand in the next financial year. While acknowledging that the country was experiencing serious energy woes, Zuma went on to inform the nation that his Cabinet was working flat out to try and stabilize the energy supply and try to contain load shedding. He said government was aware that the energy crisis was an impediment to economic growth and a general inconvenience to everyone, adding that, “As a priority we are going to stabilise Eskom’s finances to enable the utility to manage the current period.” In addition, according to Zuma’s address, Eskom had been directed to ship from using diesel to gas, which was more readily available in and around the country.
Turning to the long term plan, the President informed parliament that was devoid of EFF members, who had been thrown out by Speaker Baleka Mbete, and the DA, who walked out after learning that police details had been used in escorting the EFF members from the chamber, that his government’s long term plan was to diversify into gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydropower and other sources as part of the energy mix. He added that as far as the nuclear energy plans for the country were concerned, a 9600MW nuclear build programme was in the offing and inter-governmental agreements had been signed and vendor parades been carried out. With countries such as China, France, Russia, the United States of America and South Kora. “Our target is to connect the first unit to the grid by 2023, just in time for Eskom to retire part of its aging power plants,” he added.
Zuma also said that the South African government was also working with the Democratic Republic of Congo to build the Grand Inga Hydro-electrical Project, which was expected to produce 48,000MW of clean hydro-electricity of which South Africa would tap into about 15,000MW.