South Africa has resolved to embrace efforts by businesses to generate their own electricity, due to growing frustrations by business to the constant power outages in the country. These nationwide power cuts have affected economic output and sapped investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Many power-hungry companies such as mines want to build their own renewable energy plants to reduce their reliance on Eskom but have not been able to secure the necessary regulatory approvals.
A new era
According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, it is high time the country embraces the fact that there are those companies and households that want to generate their own energy. “For the first time we are now saying let us have self-generation. We cannot stop technology, we cannot stop the future from arriving hence we have opened up a new era,” he added.
South Africa’s mining industry body the Minerals Council recently urged the government to act promptly to bring online new power sources and ease licensing rules, because according to Roger Baxter, chief executive of the Minerals Council, miners could build between 500MW and 1,500MW of their own generating capacity over the next few years if regulations were eased.
Under-fire state-owned utility Eskom generates more than 90% of the country’s electricity but regularly struggles to meet demand because of breakdowns at its coal-fired power plants. The government has been slow to procure more power since the electricity cuts escalated last year.