South Africa: As part of urgent efforts by the Provincial Government to find solutions to respond to the electricity supply crisis gripping the province, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube held a high-level Energy Webinar with over 60 business leaders and energy experts last night.
The Webinar took place after Premier Dube-Ncube presented her maiden State of the Province Address on 24 February, which among other pertinent issues, focused on the approach by the province in resolving the national energy challenges and the need to urgently address load-shedding and its devastating impact on the economy.
The Webinar comes hot on the heels of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of the new Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgotsientso Ramakgopa. “We welcome Dr Kgotsientso Ramakgopa as the new Minister of Electricity. We know him to be a seasoned bureaucrat as well as a tried and tested technocrat. We have no doubt that he will definitely be equal to the task, and we look forward to engaging with him in resolving the energy crisis. Due to load-shedding, businesses and households have been suffering untold economic and financial damage, said President.
There is no country in the world that can grow itself out of poverty, unemployment and inequality without energy,” said Premier Dube-Ncube. Premier Dube-Ncube said the Webinar sought to tap into the broader brain’s trust of the experts and practitioners in energy in order to find practical solutions to the crisis.
“Importantly, by calling this digital gathering, we recognise the need for close cooperation between government, the private sector and the public in working out solutions that will ease the pressure on the grid and ensure our economy continues to tick for as long as possible. To do this, we must end load-shedding, not reduce it, but end it. This is our objective as we deal with what has now become a national emergency,” said Premier Dube Ncube.
Reflecting on KwaZulu-Natal’s proposed energy solutions, Premier Dube-Ncube said the province’s response will be swift while considering short, medium and long-term approaches to the energy crisis.
The Premier said education and communication were important in promoting energy efficiency by encouraging government, businesses, industries, and households to reduce consumption through energy-efficient appliances and practices.
“We must inculcate the culture of saving electricity. Education and awareness can go a long way in teaching households and businesses to save electricity and reduce the burden on the power grid. It is important to also invest in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and others by creating incentives for businesses and homeowners to install solar panels, establishing wind farms and bioenergy facilities and partner with private companies and investors to build and operate renewable energy projects. We also need to develop energy storage solutions such as batteries, pumped hydro storage, or compressed air storage,” Premier Dube-Ncube said.
The Premier also called for closer collaboration with other provinces in order to share expertise, resources, and technology to address the energy crisis. “This Webinar is a start, and we could, out of these engagements, find solutions through which we in KwaZulu-Natal could become leaders in the sector in Africa. Our solutions have never been about ditching coal immediately but about looking at the energy mix over the coming years. At the same time, it remains important to us that in implementing the Just Transition, we are also fully inclusive of those who were previously disadvantaged and do not make the mistake of leaving anyone behind and not least the poor and vulnerable,” concluded Premier Dube-Ncube.
The government of KwaZulu-Natal is expediting the creation of a KZN Energy War Room, which will consist of government officials and key partners. This group will supervise the province’s reaction to the electricity emergency. Before March 2023 ends, KwaZulu-Natal will select a team of energy specialists to manage and hasten the implementation of the KZN Energy Master Plan.