President: 100 days of no load shedding no reason to relax

Even though South Africa recently reached the longest period without load shedding since 2020, there is no reason to relax, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. 'Our electricity system remains vulnerable and we cannot yet rule out a possibility of further load shedding. 'Rather, this milestone provides encouragement for us to do more and to work faster to ensure a secure supply of electricity now and into the future,' President Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday. On Friday last week, South Africa marked 100 days since the country experienced load shedding. This, according to the nation's First Citizen, was a sign that the Energy Action Plan (EAP), which was launched in July 2022, was bringing some of the outcomes of collaboration between government, business, and other social partners. He welcomed Eskom's Generation Operational Recovery Plan, which stepped up the maintenance schedule, with a marked improvement in the performance of the power stations that produce the bulk of South Africa's elec tricity. The President also commended the State-owned power utility for successfully commissioning Unit 5 at the Kusile Power Station, adding 800MW to the grid last week. This means Eskom has returned three units at Kusile to service ahead of schedule. 'The improvement in the reliability of power supply has been a relief for households, who have been able to go about their daily lives without the inconvenience of load shedding. It has also been a great relief for businesses.' The President cited the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) index which found that consumer confidence rose in the second quarter of this year because of the suspension of load shedding. This improvement is also a boost to the national economy, which is reliant on the availability and reliability of electricity supply for growth. 'There is cause for optimism that business and investor confidence will improve. Earlier this month, steelmaker ArcelorMittal announced that it would not go ahead with plans to close its operations in Newca stle and Vereeniging, citing improvements in the country's electricity and logistics situations as among the factors behind its decision.' The South African Reserve Bank stated in its April Monetary Policy Review that 'as electricity supply gradually improves, underpinned by the ongoing private investment in renewable energy generation and increased maintenance by Eskom,' South Africa's near and medium-term growth outlook is set to improve. 'We are committed to continue and complete the far-reaching structural reforms we started during the sixth administration to resolve the immediate electricity supply challenges and lay the groundwork for energy security into the future.' These reforms, he wrote, include the removal of the licensing threshold for new power generation projects, tax incentives for rooftop solar, opening more bid windows for renewable energy projects, and improving Eskom's operational viability. He mentioned that the National Transmission Company South Africa (NTSA), which will own and ope rate the nation's national electricity transmission system, started trading last week, marking the latest milestone in the structural reform process. 'This forms part of the reforms we have been driving to establish an electricity market that will enable competition, secure supply and revolutionise the energy sector.' As the Government of National Unity (GNU) begins its work, he vowed that leaders will sustain this momentum. 'For us to continue to implement the EAP and support the hard-working management and staff of Eskom, who are day by day helping to bring us out of this crisis, we must all pull in the same direction.' In addition, by focusing on the broader picture and scaling up what has already been achieved, he is of the view that the country was in a far better position to achieve the task they have set themselves to end load shedding and achieve an energy-secure future. 'We have reached 100 days without load shedding by working together. This should encourage us to redouble our efforts and to st rengthen the collaboration between all stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.' Source: South African Government News Agency