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Ditch outdated SA growth plans - Eskom book author

Oct 28 2015 17:03
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Key policy documents to boost South Africa’s economy are outdated and need to be ditched, said the author of a new book about Eskom.

Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday, the author of Blackout: The Eskom Crisis, James-Brent Styan, said the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for Electricity 2010-30 should be lobbed into the bin.

Styan said the IRP’s prediction of future electricity demand and the NDP’s assumption of economic growth have both become horribly unrealistic since the plans were implemented in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

SA’s gross domestic product is sitting at 2.2% compared with the 5% in the NDP, while electricity demand has dropped significantly due to mine closures, said Styan.

“Government is trying to sell the NDP to overseas investors,” he said. “It’s useless. They should throw it out the window.”

Painting a gloomy economic future in South Africa, Styan said: “We are living in a fool’s paradise if we think the economy is doing well.”

He said Eskom’s use of the IRP meant they were operating in the dark. “We can’t continue blundering ahead blindly,” he said.

Styan, a former journalist who, according to him, covered Eskom for over a decade, summarises Eskom's 60-year history before analysing events that shaped the utility into the business it is today. He is currently the media liaison officer for Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape.

Did nuclear energy issue freeze IRP update?

The IRP aims to develop energy sustainability with the idea that it would remain a “living plan”, which would be revised by the Department of Energy every two years.

However, the 2013 revision was never adopted by cabinet – a move critics say was because it downgrades the need for nuclear energy, which would shut down plans to procure 9 600 MW by 2030.

“The revised demand projections suggest that no new nuclear base-load capacity is required until after 2025 (and for lower demand not until at earliest 2035) and that there are alternative options, such as regional hydro, that can fulfill the requirement and allow further exploration of the shale gas potential before prematurely committing to a technology that may be redundant if the electricity demand expectations do not materialise,” according to the updated plan.

The 2015 revision is expected to be published in March 2016, and now nuclear energy will be enhanced further, according to Business Day's Carol Paton. "The key motivation, say government officials, is to meet climate change mitigation targets agreed to in global climate change negotiations in 2009," she wrote in September.

Kick starting the NDP, 9 points at a time

The NDP, which was implemented in 2013, has battled to get off the ground and President Jacob Zuma implemented a nine-point plan in his State of the Nation Address in 2015 "to ignite growth and create jobs".

Updating the country on Wednesday about progress made by the Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster, chairperson and Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Gugile Nkwinti, said South Africa cannot depend on global growth alone to catalyse domestic growth.

“We are confident that these priority interventions will help to grow South Africa’s economy and address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality if we all work together,” he said. “The economy is everyone’s responsibility.”

Operation Phakisa forms part of that plan, with current plans to unlock the ocean economy and reinvigorate the mining sector.

"Operation Phakisa is an innovative and pioneering approach to translate detailed plans into concrete results through dedicated delivery and collaboration," said Nkwinti. "Through Operation Phakisa, government aims to implement priority programmes better, faster and more effectively."



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