Our take: Opportunity amid SA’s electricity crisis

South Africans were still reeling from Stage 2 loadshedding earlier this week when we were klapped with another unwelcome Eskom statement that announced stage 4 loadshedding.  

That escalated quickly. 👀

This, as government representatives prepare to go to Glasgow, Scotland for the 26th global climate talks beginning on Sunday. 

If anything should scream, “We need to move to green power NOW” this ought to be it. 

Dirty and debt-ridden Eskom cannot keep the lights on. Plus recent emission statistics show that SA is now the 8th-largest emitter per capita of greenhouse gases… in the world. 😨 But any crisis worth its salt lends itself to real opportunities. 

The hot topic at COP26 this year is financing for developing countries like ours to transition to green sources of energy while protecting vulnerable jobs and communities that depend on the coal industry. It’s a contentious topic that led to the breakdown of talks last year. SA is off to a promising start this time: Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy announced on Friday that we will receive up to $500 million from the Climate Investment Funds, a global fund that helps countries reduce their reliance on coal. The exact amount will depend on the type of investment plan we develop.

It’s a start but still a drop in the ocean; analysts estimate that SA needs at least $27 billion. But it’s great that people like Creecy are taking the lead alongside Eskom leaders like CEO Andre de Ruyter, who are pro-renewables, rather than dinosaurs like Gwede Mantashe who are still tied to coal.🙄 Even President Cyril Ramaphosa’s landmark announcement in June that independent power producers could produce 100 times more of their own power without getting a licence shows things are slowly shifting. 

It looks like global forces may finally force SA’s to kick its dirty coal addiction, and hopefully save us from the unacceptable loadshedding we’ve been exposed to again and again. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 28 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.