South Africa gets “embarrassing” generator donation from China

South Africa has received load-shedding assistance from China in the form of petrol generators to be installed at South African police stations, hospitals, and clinics across the country.

Electricity minister Kogsientsho Ramokgopa made the announcement on Twitter (now X).

“The generators will be used as backup to alleviate the impacts of load shedding in the delivery of services in clinics, schools and courts whilst government continues to implement the EAP to ultimately end load shedding and create sustainable energy security,” said Ramokgopa.

However, his announcement has received backlash through the comments section of his post, as the generators appear smaller than many had expected.

“You can buy those at Makro,” one user said.

“Give them back,” another added.

Several other commenters described the announcement as “embarrassing” and criticised the electricity minister.

Chen Xiaodong, Chinese ambassador to South Africa (left). Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, South Africa’s electricity minister (right).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t work out the generators’ specs from the photos Ramokgopa posted.

However, Ramokgopa’s original announcement said the generators would range from 6kW to 200kW. From the images posted, the larger units don’t appear to have arrived yet.

“200kW can support a clinic and a medium-sized hospital, so this is true relief to the South African people,” he said.

He made the announcement that he had secured a donation from China that would help keep important institutions in South Africa powered through load-shedding bouts in August 2023.

According to his announcement, at least 500 public facilities around the country are set to benefit from the generator donation from China.

“Yesterday, we exchanged letters in relation to the technical equipment that will be assisting us to provide sustainable electricity to some of the major public installations like clinics, hospitals and police stations,” said Ramokgopa.

“We are going to get 552 of those units [and] 450 of them are already on the way,” he added.

“It means that over 500 public facilities…are now going to have access to uninterrupted alternative power supply and thank you to the Chinese for the generous contribution.”

The electricity minister visited the Chinese ambassador to South Africa in March 2023 to ask for China’s assistance in fighting load-shedding.

Ramokgopa highlighted five potential areas where South Africa and China could collaborate:

  • Securing technical expertise
  • Demand-side management interventions
  • Training youth to meet demands for solar PC installations
  • Introducing micro-grids
  • Emergency power

The generator donation from China likely falls under the “emergency power” category.

Ramokgopa’s engagement with the ambassador followed a previous meeting with Business Unity South Africa, which focused on areas of collaboration between the government and businesses to resolve the energy crisis.

Now read: Eskom cuts load-shedding again — here is the new timetable

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South Africa gets “embarrassing” generator donation from China