Pretoria - South Africa cannot afford nuclear at present, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told a media briefing ahead of his mini budget speech on Wednesday, pouring cold water on the notion that the nuclear programme could see a revival before the end of the year.
He said there is no room for a nuclear programme in South Africa's current constrained budget.
Gigaba’s Medium-term Budget Policy Statement revealed little of South Africa’s anticipated energy path for the future, including whether funds for the country’s controversial new nuclear programme would be available in future.
At the briefing Gigaba said nuclear is definitely not off the table yet. However, no decision on nuclear could be made before SA’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has been updated, which is only expected to happen next year.
In his address Gigaba said SA’s updated IRP should enable an energy policy which provides electricity at the lowest possible cost to households and industry.
He also made it clear in his speech that government needs to tighten its belt.
When the economy’s performance improves, SA could review where nuclear fits into the mix, he told journalists.
“Currently we have surplus electricity and that will remain for the foreseeable future,” he said.
In his mini budget address Gigaba didn’t elaborate on what the ingredients of such an energy policy would be, and what funding the different options would need.
Commenting on his austerity measures, the minister said the mandate paper “recognises that resources are finite and thus hard choices would need to be made about which government programmes should continue and which should be postponed or shut down".
Gigaba said approving the IRP was part of the microeconomic reforms that will stimulate economic growth.
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