Mining Indaba: Minister Gwede’s remarks demonstrate a lack of understanding of South Africa’s energy needs 

Issued by Kevin Mileham – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy
10 May 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbites  in English and Afrikaans by Kevin Mileham MP

At the Mining Indaba yesterday, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe revealed once again how out of touch he is with South Africa’s energy crisis. Pinning his hopes on hydroelectric power from the Grand Inga project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a new nuclear build, Mantashe is ignoring the elephant in the room: the 4000MW to 6000MW shortfall in electricity generation we face right now.

Despite being warned more than 3 years ago that the Grand Inga scheme was extremely unlikely to generate electricity in the short to medium term, Mantashe and the Department of Energy insisted on including Grand Inga and the potential for new nuclear generation in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in 2019. Nuclear is problematic in that it is not a short term solution to South Africa’s electricity supply needs, with a new nuclear plant only likely to start generating in 10 to 15 years’ time.

The IRP is South Africa’s premier policy document for electricity generation, and is intended as a short- and medium-term roadmap for decisions regarding new generation capacity. As such, it is intended to be updated regularly (at the very least, every two years). When questioned on this, however, the department has indicated that it lacks the personnel resources to do this, and therefore has to rely on outdated models and assumptions that are no longer valid or justifiable.

As an immediate step to addressing the short-term electricity supply gap, Mantashe must prioritize the review of the IRP, in order to bring new generation capacity online as quickly as possible. It is clear that ESKOM is not up to this task, and it will therefore fall to private investors and independent power producers to pick up the slack. Additionally, Mantashe must take concrete steps to remove unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy at NERSA, in line with the President’s commitments at SONA 2022, in order to allow sub 100MW generators easier access to the grid and to promote generation for own use by businesses and consumers.

A failure to plan is planning to fail, and Mantashe and his adherents seem perfectly willing to go down this path. The Democratic Alliance has written to Minister Mantashe requesting that a timeline for the IRP review be published and that he present a detailed report on the progress to date to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy as a matter of urgency. Additionally, we will write to President Ramaphosa to request that the updating of the IRP (and the Integrated Energy Plan, which is horrendously overdue) be included as Key Performance Indicators in Mantashe’s performance agreement.

Our economy – and by extension, our ability to create and retain jobs – is hamstrung by repeated bouts of load-shedding. Only by creating a reliable electricity supply that meets demand can we hope to address the challenges of poverty and unemployment in South Africa. Sadly, Mantashe seems perfectly willing to stick his head in the sand and ignore the urgent needs of the country in favour of his pet vanity projects.