October 6 2015 at 08:54am
Cape Town – South African Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has reassured the country that renewable energy was part of the solution to the energy crisis.
She told a media briefing at the South African International Renewable Energy Conference in Cape Town on Monday that renewable energy would increase the country’s access to energy, and the programme is set to be rolled out to the rest of Africa over the next five years.
Joemat-Pettersson said other than hydropower, renewable energy was staking its claim in the sector.
“It is our belief that renewable energy provides a significant opportunity to improve energy access and security, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, ensure sustainable development and significantly improve socio-economic development.”
South Africa has been facing the crisis over the last few years, with the government adopting the renewable energy programme in 2010.
Joemat-Pettersson pointed to Africa’s abundance of natural resources to generate energy. She believed that delegates would encourage the continent to harness renewable energy sources.
Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have played an important role in renewable energy projects. She said that so far, the private sector had invested R200 billion in renewable energy projects over the past five years, and the government expects more money to pour in.
Opening the conference earlier, Joemat-Pettersson said the need was for the rest of Africa to use renewables by 2020 as they were a better source of energy.
AU commissioner for infrastructure and energy Elham Ibrahim said the conference would shape Africa’s strategies in dealing with the challenges of energy.
Lack of infrastructure development was marked as a serious challenge.
“As the AU Commission, we are mandated in the energy sector to co-ordinate and mobilise resources for member states,” said Ibrahim.
She said all AU members were encouraged to use the energy mix programme to meet energy demands.
President Jacob Zuma backed the programme in his addresses to Parliament and outside community, including investors.
He has even assured foreign investors that South Africa was on course in securing the energy needs of the country, including using renewable energy.
SA Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson addresses SAIREC delegates at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on October 5, 2015. Picture: Siyabulela Duda, GCIS