Ramaphosa: End in sight for SA’s energy crisis

The deputy president says Cabinet's war room has already taken steps to ease the situation.

FILE: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says there's light at the end of the tunnel for South Africa's energy crisis.

Ramaphosa heads up cabinet's war room which is driving a five-point plan aimed at getting more energy into the national grid, curbing demand for electricity, and ensuring Eskom gets the necessary maintenance work done.

He told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the Department of Energy has already taken a number of steps to ease the power shortage.

"The department has entered into contracts with independent power producers to provide peaking power of 1,000 Megawatts. It has also issued a request for proposals, for the private sector, for a new coal power station of 2,500 Megawatts."

The deputy president was answering questions from MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

He also announced that he has appointed a six-person panel to advise the war room.

Its members include former Eskom Chairperson Bobby Godsell, the former Chief Executive of Spoornet Dolly Mokgatle and University of Cape Town energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard.

Meanwhile, the war room is expected to meet with big business on Friday.

Ramaphosa said organised businesses had a number of proposals for dealing with Eskom's difficulties.

"Business Leadership South Africa and the Business Unity South Africa will be meeting with us to discuss a number of proposals that they want to put on the table. So the war room is at work, we're doing a number of things to address the challenges that Eskom is facing."

He said the war room would also be talking to unions.

"The good thing is that the business community, including labour, has asked to meet us as part of the war room process to put forward a number of proposals that they have."

Ramaphosa said problems with connecting independent power producers to the national grid were also being resolved.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Essie Esterhuysen asked the deputy president why independent producers were currently providing only 800 megawatts when they were given the go-ahead to supply more than 3,700 megawatts back in 2011.

Ramaphosa answered by saying obstacles preventing Independent Power Producers (IPP) from feeding into the grid were being dealt with.

He said the 800 megawatts being provided by the IPP so far would grow.

"We're working diligently with Eskom management to make sure that we don't drop any of the balls."