The Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) broadly welcomes the pronouncements made by the President in the recent SONA address in Parliament on 09 February 2023. The EIUG is also particularly encouraged by the drive and retained focus demonstrated by the President on the Energy Action Plan first outlined in July 2022, which generally aligns with EIUG views on these matters.
The pronouncements on roof top solar incentives, diesel support to Eskom and the reiteration of Eskom debt support are viewed by the EIUG as positive. We also believe the pronouncement on the Minister of Electricity and the National State of Disaster declaration are intended to show clear leadership of the crisis, the urgency required and the intent to foster an enabling environment for recovery and long-term prosperity. However, clarity is required on how the National State of Disaster will be used to resolve the crisis and the role the existing and new Government functions will play and how they will interact with each other, NERSA and Eskom. Oversight and governance must be put in place to monitor the execution of the Energy Action Plan using disaster powers to prevent any undesired consequences, like power abuse, procurement irregularities and lack of cohesiveness. The plan should be supplemented with clear role definitions, concrete milestones and firm targets.
In the case of the appointment of a new Minister of Electricity, the EIUG implores the President to appoint an individual with the necessary gravitas in terms of his/her industry and technical knowledge and the demonstrated ability to deliver while ensuring sufficient engagement with key role players. In addition, the individual will need to be empowered to execute the job at hand, particularly considering that there may well be overlapping mandates with other ministries. Equally important will be to shield Eskom from unnecessary conflicting requirements by different ministries and to give Eskom the necessary space to do what has to be done on their part.
We believe that the new pronouncements and those announced as part of the Energy Action Plan in July last year will have a tangible positive impact in closing the electricity supply deficit, stabilising electricity prices and decarbonising our grid. This in turn will stimulate economic growth in South Africa and enable social progress. We are also encouraged by the Government’s intention to expedite implementation of these plans and, as the EIUG, we are committing to work with all the stakeholders, to ensure the realisations of these SONA pronouncements. We therefore reiterate that the real crux of any good plan is swift action by all role players in recognition of the enormity of the crisis, accompanied by an equally robust monitoring of execution.
We will continue to engage Government, NERSA, Eskom and other stakeholders in a constructive manner to raise our concerns and work with them in finding solutions. As a collective, we need to create an enabling electricity supply industry, to not only prosper as energy intensive users, but to enable economic and social progress for all South Africans. The success of our economy is dependent on sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity supply industry.
Notes to the editors:
The EIUG was established in 1999, and is a voluntary, non-profit association of energy intensive consumers whose members currently account for over 40% of the electrical energy consumed in South Africa. As electricity is a key input to the processes of these organisations, it is the ‘life blood’ of our businesses. Our members collectively contribute over 20% to the GDP of South Africa and employ over 650 000 people across multiple sectors, including mining, quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, transportation, and water. The EIUG is dedicated to the promotion of the interests of energy users in South African Industry.
The EIUG is a consumer-led organisation working for the good of the country. The group strongly believes that energy is the engine for economic growth and development in South Africa. We are therefore committed to working with government, power utilities and other stakeholders to ensure South Africa has energy industries which provide reliable supply at acceptable quality and competitive prices.
Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa NPC