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Mahlobo wants review of SA's long-term energy needs finalised soon

While new Energy Minister David Mahlobo says this is about ensuring policy certainty and boosting investor confidence, opposition parties and experts are questioning the rush.

FILE: Minister of Energy David Mahlobo. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Energy Minister David Mahlobo wants a review of South Africa’s long-term energy needs finalised by the end of this month.

The integrated resource plan is meant to determine the energy mix that the country needs, with nuclear, gas and renewables all in the mix.

While Mahlobo says this is about ensuring policy certainty and boosting investor confidence, opposition parties and experts are questioning the rush.

Mahlobo faced questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

The Energy Minister wants the blueprint for South Africa’s future energy needs finalised as soon as possible.

“I’ve directed the team, as soon as they’ve received comments, as early as March, April to conclude this matter with Cabinet and affected stakeholders with immediate effect so that we can create policy certainty and boost investor confidence.”

Mahlobo is insisting that nuclear power will be developed at a pace and scale that the country can afford.

“We need to secure the supply of energy that is sustainable. Don’t politicise it.”

But the Democratic Alliance’s Gordon Mackay says that the rush to finalise the integrated resource plan is sending mixed signals.

Mackay says the IRP has to be in place for the nuclear deal to go ahead.

He says Mahlobo’s predecessor, Mmamoloko Kubayi, committed to deliver the IRP in February 2018 before the Budget speech, but says there’s been no progress made on it.

“It is therefore quite suspicious that such a large document will now be ready in one month.”

Mackay believes once the IRP has been completed, the nuclear deal will be fast-tracked.

Mahlobo is, meanwhile, insisting that his most pressing concern right now is ensuring there are enough strategic oil reserves to power the nation after the Strategic Fuel Fund unlawfully sold off 10 million barrels for a bargain $280 million in 2015.

Mahlobo says that he expects the investigators’ final report next week, and has promised action by the end of November.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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