South African President, Jacob Zuma. Source: My Broadband
South African President, Jacob Zuma. Source: My Broadband

Delivering his 10th State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the people of South Africa on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma, emphasised that work is continuing to ensure national energy security.

“Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds,” Zuma said.

He highlighted the energy sector as a key focus area for government  to help boost the country’s GDP.

According to him, government anticipates an overall economic growth rate of 1.3% in 2017 following an estimated 0.5% in 2016.

Energy security

The President praised the deliverance of basic power services to the people over the past year: “To date nearly 7 million households have been connected to the grid and now have electricity.

“The successful execution of Eskom’s build and maintenance programmes helped ensure stability and an end to load shedding.”

Adding that renewable energy forms an important part of South Africa’s energy mix,  gas, nuclear and coal are just as important to ensure energy security.

“Government is committed to the overall Independent Power Producers Programme and we are expanding the programme to other sources of energy including coal and gas, in addition to renewable energy,” he said.

Water

Despite the country’s current water situation, Zuma said that government is working hard to ensure reliable bulk water supply in the various areas of the country to support economic growth whilst increasing access to vulnerable and rural municipalities.

“In an effort to curb the high water losses, which in some municipalities far exceeds the national average, which is currently at 37%; about ten thousand unemployed youth are being trained as plumbers, artisans and water agents,” Zuma explained.

He added: “More will be recruited this year to reach the total of fifteen thousand.”

The President calls upon municipalities to support the War on Leaks programme.