A general view of some parts of Braamfontein, Johannesburg submerged in darkness due to load-shedding (rolling blackout) on January 31, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaMuhammad OsmanWriter/EditorSouth Africa is grappling with an energy crisis that has left many without power for hours on end due to a mix of factors, including the nation’s aging power infrastructure. As the country stuggles to keep the lights on, with increasing pressure on the government to find a solution, a new ministry was recently established to tackle the issue.The Resource Mobilization Fund, established in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call on the private sector to help the National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom) in resolving the country’s power crisis, announced that it secured commitments of 100 million rand ($5.4 million) in support of the government’s efforts to restore the power sector.During an online press conference on Thursday, Martin Kingston, chairman of the Resource Mobilization Fund and director of the local unit of Rothschild & Co, pointed out that the fund secured pledges from local businesses and international donors over a four-month period.
"The Resource Mobilisation Fund exists only to receive and raise donations, procure capacity and skillsets, donate these to Necom and then report back appropriately," said Kingston, noting that the fund would not engage in policy advocacy.
South Africa has been weathering a power crisis since 2007. The country is facing a shortage of electricity due to a combination of factors, including aging infrastructure of the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom, corruption, underinvestment in new power plants, and a reliance on coal-fired power stations.In 2022, in particular, the situation was exacerbated by extreme weather events, which damaged power lines and caused more outages, and this was reflected in the nation’s economic growth. As the country struggles to keep the lights on, the government is under increasing pressure to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.Steps are being taken to address the crisis, with President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing on Monday the establishment of two new ministries, including the Ministry of Electricity and the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa was appointed as Minister of Electricity to deal with the crisis.
"The primary task of the new minister will be to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding [rolling power cuts] as a matter of urgency," President Ramaphosa said. "To effectively oversee the electricity crisis response, the appointed Minister will have political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of the Energy Action Plan."
The move followed the declaration of “a national state of disaster” in February to enable the government to take actions necessary to deal with the situation.