Some light at the end of the tun­nel

The Citizen (KZN) - - Opinion -

For the gov­ern­ment to have a light­bulb mo­ment, you would think, first, there would have to be elec­tric­ity in the na­tional power grid. On the other hand, per­haps the fact that SA is at the stage where Eskom is putting to­gether a “phi­los­o­phy of load shedding” (this is true – you can’t make this up) means the gov­ern­ment has fi­nally tum­bled to the re­al­i­sa­tion the coun­try is deep into a cri­sis.

The ANC’s light­bulb mo­ment has been to ac­knowl­edge, fi­nally, that if SA sticks to Eskom alone as a power sup­plier, then we are all doomed.

So, Min­eral Re­sources and En­ergy Min­is­ter Gwede Man­tashe dropped what many ex­perts con­sider a pol­icy bomb­shell at a min­ing in­vest­ment con­fer­ence this week.

He an­nounced that, in fu­ture, mines will be able to gen­er­ate their own elec­tric­ity, thereby re­duc­ing de­mand on the crum­bling na­tional grid.

But, even more star­tling, Man­tashe said gov­ern­ment would al­low pro­pos­als for an ad­di­tional, pri­vately run, elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion com­pany, or com­pa­nies, to be set up to aug­ment Eskom sup­plies.

Al­though that is not pri­vati­sa­tion of the ex­ist­ing Eskom setup, it is the next best thing and should be wel­comed, be­cause it means there will be a mod­icum of com­pe­ti­tion in the power sup­ply mar­ket for the first time.

It also will in­crease the push for the full, cap­i­tal­ist so­lu­tion for Eskom, which is pri­vati­sa­tion.

Al­ready, other state-owned en­ter­prises which started out dom­i­nat­ing their sec­tors, have ex­pe­ri­enced se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion from pri­vate com­pa­nies … South African Air­ways and the Post Of­fice are two ex­am­ples.

So, the move to in­clude the pri­vate sec­tor – with its un­ques­tioned bet­ter ef­fi­cien­cies – in ma­jor parts of the eco­nomic re­con­struc­tion pro­gramme which is des­per­ately needed, is a sign of hope for the fu­ture.

We hope we are not proved wrong.

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