23 November 2007 – The South African cabinet have instructed four government departments to collaborate to produce a "comprehensive electricity master plan" it was revealed last week.
A version of the plan, when presented to Cabinet, was deemed to be insufficient and the task team were asked to do further work on the plan.
"The task team thought this would be the final stage, but Cabinet felt it needed greater coordination with other ministries." said Themba Maseko, government communications head.
"Cabinet decided that the ministries of minerals and energy, water affairs and forestry, public enterprises and trade and industry must collaborate to develop a comprehensive electricity master plan."
The plan is set to be ready and approved in the new year, and aims to address the rapidly increasing demand for electricity and Maseko conceded that such a plan was "long overdue."
"A lot of what’s happening in our economy was indeed planned and anticipated, but the pace of the growth has actually exceeded our capacity to meet the power and energy demands of the country," Maseko explained.
"You could look at it as a negative to say it’s poor planning, but what we’re suggesting here is we’ve identified this as one of the major challenges that could constitute a major risk to economic growth, and we are putting a plan in place to deal with the challenges."
When questioned as to the lack of climate change considerations in the master plan, Maseko replied that even though the plan was described as comprehensive, it was specifically focussed on energy management.
"There has not been an extensive focus on climate change specifically with regard to this plan," Maseko said.
The master plan would however, focus on increasing capacity and improving reliability of the infrastructure. Additionally, attention would be given to the provision of reasonably priced electricity, diversifying energy supply sources and meeting renewable energy targets.
Maseko said local government investment in maintenance will more heavily regulated in future, and rehabilitation of local infrastructure would be included in the master plan.
He further stressed that everything possible would be done to ensure there were no power outages during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, adding that each of the stadiums would have back up generators.