The SALGA Energy Summit has assembled political leaders and officials from the energy and finance sectors to brainstorm solutions to current challenges faced by the energy sector in South Africa.
The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) summit currently underway in Johannesburg, aims to address issues concerning energy demand in the country, imminent change and disruption, innovation and the need for regulatory reform.
Day one commenced with several dignitaries outlining key issues to be addressed, in line with this year’s theme Defining the Energy Future for Local Government in South Africa.
In the opening remarks MEC Jacob Mamabolo emphasise the need for Eskom to diversify its generation portfolio and support renewable energy. He also stated the importance of South Africa adhering to the Paris Agreement, "decreasing our carbon footprint".
Mamabolo said: “We have capacity to use the sun and wind to drive the economy, we are not optimally taking advantage of this, we must also take the lead in reducing green-house emissions.”
The grand political debate
The Grand Political Debate session addressed the reoccurring concerns around the regulatory reform required within the sector, as well as the need for clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the Department of Energy, Eskom and the Municipalities.
Ensuring a regulatory landscape that encourages investment, public and private partnership, and that allows municipalities the necessary decision making rights is vital.
Massive debts owed to Eskom by the Municipalities was of concern and suggestions were made to right-off outstanding debt, which comprises mainly interest and penalties.
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The SALGA Energy Summit session included speakers: Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International; Thembi Nkadimeng, executive mayor of Polokwane; Parks Mpho Tau, SALGA President; Xola Pakati, executive mayor of Buffalo City; and Jacky Molisane, Eskom board member.
SALGA Energy Summit day one highlights
- Concerns were raised regarding Eskom’s suitability to serve the needs of an economy that needs to grow in a sustainable manner.
- The lack of democratisation within the sector means energy continues to be a significant discriminator.
- The lack of maintenance and aging infrastructure is cause for great concern, especially in light of the maintenance backlog.
- Civil society and government seem to agree that nuclear power needs to be taken off the table – it will provide too little, too late and the question of safe disposal of waste is a concern.
- Tariff structures and revenue collection needs to be a priority for all stakeholders.
All discussions were contextualised within the idea of a new dawn for South Africa, a sense that new leadership will provide the change needed for sustainable development.
However, counsellors acknowledged that change needs to occur now, to ensure the energy future we are aiming for.
Counsellor Nico de Jager said: “We are at a tipping point and critical decisions need to be made in the industry, now is the time, as energy custodians, to reconsider how we look at energy.”
The SALGA Energy Summit continues today and Friday 9 March, promising more engaging discussion on topics such as: mapping the energy transition, mega-trends in the sector, opportunities and constraints within the current policy framework and the impact of energy transitions on municipal revenue.