South African consumers and businesses must take control of their own energy future as they cannot rely on the government and Eskom.
This is the view of energy expert and EE Business Intelligence managing director Chris Yelland, who spoke to CNBC Africa about South Africa’s energy crisis.
Over the past year, South Africans had to deal with regular power blackouts, with load-shedding hitting a historic high of stage 6 at the end of 2019.
Unfortunately, Yelland said, things will have to get a lot worse before the bureaucrats realise they have a problem.
He said the trouble is that the ministers concerned – Finance minister Tito Mboweni, Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe – seem to be living in a different world.
“There is a cognitive dissonance between their world and the reality of a failing Eskom. They still talk about Medupi and Kusile as magnificent plants,” said Yelland.
The reality is that these two mega-projects brought Eskom to its knees and they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Yelland said politicians like Mboweni, Gordhan, and Mantashe are not facing the reality that Eskom is not too big to fail – it has already failed.
“The question is what are we going to do about it,” he said.
Customers need to provide their own electricity
Yelland said the solution to South Africa’s electricity crisis is not going to come from the government, as it cannot deliver projects that can provide new electricity within the next one to two years.
“That kind of electricity capacity has to come from the customers of electricity, taking responsibility for their own energy future,” said Yelland.
He said South African electricity users need to realise they cannot rely on the government and Eskom for their future energy needs.
“South African businesses and households have to take control of their own energy future,” said Yelland.
He said the government needs to allow energy users to install their own electricity capacity and allow municipalities to generate electricity themselves.
“At this stage, the government seems to think it is the only solution and it is showing every day that it is not,” said Yelland.
“The government needs to allow energy users to install their own electricity capacity and allow municipalities to generate electricity themselves.”
He added that municipalities must also be allowed to procure electricity from IPPs and that everyone should be allowed to install solar generation units to suit their needs.