A POSSIBLE plan to assist South Africans install solar power amid an escalating energy crisis and rising electricity costs will be announced soon, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Government is considering additional mechanisms to address the rising cost of electricity. These include measures such as helping households and small businesses install solar power and energy-saving devices, supporting households with rechargeable lights, and working with learners to catch up where load shedding interrupts lessons,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
“We should be able to provide further information on these and other initiatives in the coming weeks.”
This comes on the back of comments from newly elected ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula who, according to Bloomberg, said at the weekend that “an emergency package will be announced by government.”
South Africa experienced over 200 days of load shedding in 2022, while not a single day of 2023 has been without cuts.
Earlier in January the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) agreed to an 18.65% increase in electricity tariffs for power utility Eskom, effective from 1 April this year. At an ANC event earlier this month, Ramaphosa said he had asked Eskom to halt the hike.
In response, the power utility said that if Eskom did not recover money from consumers, the burden on the taxpayer would increase.
Difficulties for South Africans
The president said in his newsletter on Monday that it was important to “affirm the independence of Nersa and the importance of following the due legal process in setting tariffs”.
“Tariffs that reflect the cost of producing electricity are necessary for Eskom’s financial sustainability and for the utility to be able to service its debt and to undertake the critical maintenance that is needed to end load shedding.
“Yet, there is little doubt that increasing the price of electricity now, at this challenging time, will add to the difficulties South Africans are facing.”
Ramaphosa said SA has to juggle between ensuring Eskom has the resources to fix the energy crisis, and the need to protect people from the effects of higher prices.
“There is no simple answer to this problem. That is why all stakeholders, including government, Eskom, business, labour and communities, need to work together to achieve a very difficult balance,” he said.
“At all times, we must be guided by the needs and interests of South Africans, especially the poor, both now and into the future. We should be wary of short-term solutions that we will regret in years to come.” – news24.com