South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has said that the coal-dependent country will soon turn to renewable energy as one way to help ease power cuts
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has said that the coal-dependent country will soon turn to renewable energy as one way to help ease power cuts that have “severely set back” efforts to rebuild the weak economy. But the president has warned of more blackouts in the immediate future.
South Africans have been outraged by rolling power cuts in the current mid-summer that also have worried investors. The country relies on coal for some 77 percent of power needs, according to the department of energy, and some citizens were astounded when officials blamed “wet coal” in part for the blackouts, an article from the AP has revealed.
The outages are just the latest grievance in a country with 29 percent unemployment, widespread corruption and certain state-owned companies teetering on the edge of collapse. The economy is estimated to grow by less than 1 percent this year, and more than half of young people are without jobs.
“Our economy has not grown at any meaningful rate for over a decade,” Ramaphosa said, and “our public finances are under severe pressure.”
The president warned that the “debilitating” power blackouts will continue as the struggling power utility, Eskom, makes needed changes including long-delayed maintenance. “Over the next few months as Eskom works to restore its operational capabilities, we will be implementing measures that will fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country,” the president added.
Among the solutions the government is pursuing is allowing commercial and industrial users to generate their own electricity and allowing municipalities to purchase electricity from independent power producers. The country also will purchase more from existing wind and solar plants.
“We undertake this decisive shift in our energy trajectory at a time when humankind faces its greatest existential threat in the form of climate change,” the president said, and he vowed to finalise the Climate Change Bill with its framework to reduce the country’s vulnerability to global warming.