President Cyril Ramaphosa says resolving the energy crisis is critical to ensure that the economic and investment potential of the country is realised.
This as South Africa was plunged into Stage 6 load shedding for the second time this year, prompting the President’s urgent return to the country during an international trip.
Households have had to deal with bouts of up to four hours of load shedding at least twice a day since Sunday morning, with load shedding slightly eased to Stage 5 by Tuesday morning.
“Solving the electricity crisis is necessary if we are to realise the potential of our economy. In 2018, we launched an ambitious investment drive to raise R1.2 trillion in new investments over five years. To date, and with still a year to go, we have raised more than 90% of that amount in commitments from both domestic and foreign investors.
“Of these commitments, around R330 billion has already flowed into the economy, opening new factories, expanding production lines and creating new jobs,” the President said in his weekly newsletter.
The President said the current power crisis is a reminder of “how unstable our ageing power stations are” and the need for greater urgency to implement the measures he announced in July to bring stability to the grid.
“On Sunday, I held an urgent virtual meeting with Ministers and officials on the reasons for the current load shedding, and the steps being taken to reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding in the coming days and weeks. Eskom has already announced some of the measures it is taking and we will remain seized with this issue until the situation is resolved,” he said.
Following his visit to Washington last week, where discussions were held with US President Joe Biden, President Ramaphosa said these international visits and discussions may not have the desired impact on attracting trade and investment to the country if load shedding persists.
“The visits we undertake to various countries, be they working visits, State visits or trade missions, are crucial for promoting investment and trade. They bring in investment and they create jobs. They also improve our relations with the countries we visit, thus creating great opportunities for our country.
“Building strong partnerships with other countries is important, but it is not enough. That is why we are working to make our economy more competitive, more efficient and more attractive to both international and local companies. First and foremost, we have to overcome the electricity crisis,” he said.
The President emphasised that despite the country’s current challenges, foreign direct investment from companies all over the world is proof that there is “a great future for companies that do business in South Africa”.
“The recent launches of new investments and expansion projects by Ford, Anglo American, Metair Investments, Corobrik, Consol Glass, Isuzu, Sappi, Google, Netflix, Sandvik and others show that both domestic and foreign investors see South Africa as a favourable place to invest and to do business.
“These companies recognise the progress we are making in several areas of reform, such as telecommunications, energy, water provision, freight rail and ports. The Presidency is working with several departments and other partners on cutting red tape in critical regulatory processes,” he said.