HomeFeatures/AnalysisExclusive interview: Ms Sandisiwe Ncemane

Exclusive interview: Ms Sandisiwe Ncemane

Ms Ncemane is a speaker in the upcoming Nuclear Power Africa conference at African Utility Week in Cape Town in May.

1.    Let’s start with some background on Coega and the various projects that you are involved in in the energy and utility sectors?

•    Coega background:
The Coega Development Corporation (CDC), established in July 1999, is a government-owned entity, which has grown to become one of the biggest drivers of job creation, creating in excess of 96 776 jobs in both local and foreign direct investment. Coega IDZ contributes an estimated 2.5% to the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro gross domestic product (GDP) and 0.5% to the provincial GDP in 2014/15 FY, a figure the CDC intends to increase in the near future. The CDC is the licensed developer and operator of the IDZ’s 11 500HA of land and has created the necessary infrastructure and facilities to offer potential investors 6 443HA of prime lettable industrial space.

•    Energy sector:
As a state-owned entity, the energy sector of CDC mirrors that of South Africa. Our energy outlook cuts across all energy and technology sources. From a CDC perspective, the organisation has an integrated approach consisting of five focus areas, namely: Power Generation; Manufacturing; Enablers; Centre of Excellence; and Operations and Maintenance. Currently operating within the IDZ is the Dedisa Peaking Power Plant, with a capacity of 342MW. Linked to manufacturing, the IDZ is home to DCD Wind Towers, which assembles wind towers linked to the various Wind REIPPP projects within the region.

Of note, CDC is involved in the IPP Gas to Power Programme, with an allocation of 1000MW. As such, the organisation is driving an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Gas to Power Plant.  In the nuclear space, CDC is working closely with various entities in preparation for the New Nuclear Build Programme with a focus in nuclear localisation.

2.    What would you say are the main challenges in the South African energy market?
Some of the biggest challenges facing South Africa today are high carbon footprint, electricity shortage and reliability of power.  The industrialisation, infrastructure development and electrification programme will see South Africa’s energy demand increasing twice the current levels by 2030; therefore there is a need for energy efficiency.  This has forced the South African government to also hugely invest in supporting sustainable green energy initiatives through an Integrated Resource Plan.

3.    And the opportunities?
South Africa is proactively transforming and diversifying the country’s energy mix. This ultimately opens an array of opportunities within the energy sector. From a holistic perspective, there are opportunities linked to the upstream, midstream and downstream of the energy value chain. These opportunities are not only linked to power generation, but cuts across other spheres, such as skills development, supplier development, research and development and localisation. The sector is also starting to open opportunities for small business, women-owned business and black-owned business.

4.    What surprises you about the energy industry?
The rate at which the energy mix is diversifying and the rate at which the policies are evolving is impressive. The joint efforts from other government bodies have also assisted in moving the energy sector forward at a very high rate.

5.    What is your vision for this sector?
The realisation of a diversified energy mix is the end-goal. Ultimately, the growth of the energy sector should in turn lead to the socio economic development of the country at large.

6.    You are taking part in the nuclear conference at African Utility Week this year – what will be the theme of your address and your message?
The Eastern Cape (EC) is endowed and well-suited for various energy resources (including gas, renewables and nuclear), which have the potential to transform the socio-economic terrain, in terms of emergence of local industries, creation of jobs and GDP growth within the province. The new build programme is among the transformational projects for EC. On the back of some of its research, the CDC has been invited to share the potential impact of the new build programme for the communities within the province.

7.    What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?

The rich network present at African Utility Week allows the exchange of global, continental and national insights relating to a dynamic energy sector. This is undoubtedly the strength and highlight of African Utility Week and associate side events.

8.     Anything you would like to add?
The release of the Preliminary Information Memorandum on the South African gas programme highlighted the significant role of Coega in term is of readiness for triggering a gas industry in South Africa. This resonates with the diversified energy outlook referred to in response 1. Thus for Coega, it is important to reiterate our support towards a diversified energy mix, which is reliant on an inclusive engagement across the various energy technology focuses. It will be interesting how the African Utility Week format is able to integrate the myriad of views from these varied interested parties, such that the emerging trends are valuable and impactful for the holistic energy sector. It is also evident that the strategic role of water resources cannot be underplayed.