PRETORIA – Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity, has highlighted the critical importance of maintaining infrastructure and servicing municipal debt to ensure a stable electricity supply. During his weekly Energy Action Plan briefing in Pretoria, Minister Ramokgopa addressed the persisting issue of communities facing electricity shortages even after load-shedding periods. He identified poor maintenance and lack of servicing debt as contributing factors to this problem.
Ramokgopa specifically mentioned that specific communities had experienced transformer and substation failures and even explosions due to demand exceeding the capacity of these assets.
The Minister also disclosed that some municipalities are underspending by R2 billion, which should ideally go to infrastructure maintenance and servicing.
The extent of municipal debt to Eskom is also a significant challenge. According to Minister Ramokgopa, municipalities owe Eskom approximately R63.2 billion. Some municipalities have defaulted on arrangements to settle their debts.
This situation has far-reaching consequences. Failure to make debt payments undermines Eskom’s ability to effectively maintain and service the electricity distribution network. This obstacle leads to the depletion of budgets intended for addressing repeated breakdowns of substations and transmission units.
“We are working with Eskom and the head of distribution and his team to ensure that we are able to find sustainable solutions to the problem. We are in discussions with colleagues from distribution, National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association to try address the debt of the municipalities,” Ramokgopa emphasised.
The Minister underscored the adverse impact of infrastructure failures on communities unable to access the electricity they have paid for due to infrastructure inadequacies.
Furthermore, Ramokgopa recently participated in a bilateral meeting in Namibia with Tom Alweendo, the Minister of Mines and Energy. The meeting aimed to explore cooperation opportunities between South Africa and Namibia, including developing and utilising gas reserves from the Kudu fields to provide affordable gas-fired power.
This meeting emphasises the significance of cooperation in addressing energy challenges and fostering sustainable solutions across the region.
Picture: X / Kgosientsho_R
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