Cape Times

Load shedding blamed on ‘lack of political will’

- BANELE GININDZA banele.ginindza@inl.co.za

FIXING South Africa’s energy crisis was more a matter of political will than capacity, US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said yesterday while meeting his South African counterpar­t, Deputy Minister of Finance David Masondo, as part of a working visit to the country.

He reiterated the US’s commitment to helping with challenges posed by load shedding, job creation, corruption and managing the Just Energy Transition (JET).

“No country’s economy can succeed without keeping the lights on. South Africans should not have to rely on an app to determine they can prepare a meal for their families. Businesses should not have to spend thousands on generators. South Africa has the resources to generate reliable power for its citizens,” he said.

“What I have heard from South Africans is that keeping the lights on is not a question of capacity, but political will to make decisions necessary to modernise the grid and enable new generation sources to come on line.”

Adeyemo announced that US President Joe Biden had urged Congress to renew the African Growth and Opportunit­y Act (Agoa), through which $3 billion (about R56bn) of South African exports were facilitate­d last year.

This was reassuring as South African business were worried that the Agoa deal could be in jeopardy since tensions had arisen between the two countries.

This included the docking and refuelling of Russian sea vessels and aircraft, and South Africa’s apparent willingnes­s to deal with Russia in the face of its aggression against Ukraine, among other issues.

Adeyemo said South Africa’s key priority areas to unlock its economic potential lay in reliable power, keeping its connection to the global economy, especially the clean energy supply chain and stemming the tide of corruption.

Adeyemo said the US was impressed that two years into the JET partnershi­p, South Africa had made important progress in implementi­ng policies that opened power generation to private sector investment, which had resulted in the expectatio­n of 66GW of renewable energy projects – enough to meet air pollution and climate change goals.

He noted the role developmen­t banks were playing, highlighti­ng US support for the $2bn funding of South Africa by the World Bank and African Developmen­t Bank. The US was interested in making sure the JET was a just one and was ready to commit more than $9bn in financial assistance, he said.

Michael Walsh, a commentato­r on SA-US affairs, said Adeyemo’s call to tighten the grip on corruption came as no surprise as the US had in its 2022 country-level strategic plan declared the reduction of corruption by South Africa to be a strategic priority.

“Long before the breakdown in US-South Africa relations following the Lady R incident, countering corruption in South Africa was made a national security and foreign policy priority within the US government.”

The White House might not want to tip over the boat in US-South Africa elections prior to the upcoming national elections in both countries, Walsh said. But the Biden administra­tion could not ignore the current temperatur­e on US-South Africa relations within the US Congress: it was reaching a boiling point, he said.

“After the breakdown in US-South Africa relations last year, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been calling on the White House to take a much more confrontat­ional approach with the government of South Africa. Some even want South Africa to be treated as a strategic competitor,” Walsh said.

 ?? | DOCTOR NGCOBO Independen­t
Newspapers ?? PHOENIX residents in Durban blocked roads with burning tyres and trees yesterday as part of protesting against the cutting of their water and electricit­y supply for more than a week. This emanates from a strike by eThekwini municipal workers.
| DOCTOR NGCOBO Independen­t Newspapers PHOENIX residents in Durban blocked roads with burning tyres and trees yesterday as part of protesting against the cutting of their water and electricit­y supply for more than a week. This emanates from a strike by eThekwini municipal workers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa