Greenpeace: Zuma, add bold electricity plans to your SONA speech

Press release - February 12, 2014
Johannesburg, February 12, 2014 -- As South Africans count down to President Zuma’s fifth State of the Nation address this Thursday, Greenpeace urges the country’s leader to outline immediate steps to solve the urgent energy crisis that is plaguing South Africa.

"This country is plunging deeper and deeper into an electrcity supply crisis; which is the result of a completely dysfunctional energy system. Indeed, President Zuma can neither afford to ignore this problem nor defer it to another state of the nation address. Now more than ever, his government needs to be innovative and ambitious,". said Michael O'Brien-Onyeka, the Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa.

In 2013, South Africa invested heavily into the National Development Plan (NDP): 'the roadmap to a South Africa where all will have water, electricity, sanitation, jobs, housing, public transport, adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation and a clean environment [1]'.

"Despite shifts towards connecting more households to electricity, there are still stark inequalities in South Africa. Additionally rapidly escalating cost of this coal-based electricity that is driving many households to the edge of their limits. SONA gives the president ample opportunity to explain how the ruling party will tackle this crisis; particularly since this is an election year," stated O'Brien-Onyeka.

"Upscaling investments in renewable energy can fast-track South Africa's growth and development. More importantly, this shift would help reinstate the nation as the leading economy on the continent. Let it not be forgotten that the renewable energy sector could contribute over 148 000 jobs by 2030 if major shifts are made today, making a major contribution towards the 11 million jobs envisioned in the NDP, " he added.

"Tomorrow evening we will be looking to the president to announce decisive plans to pull South Africa back from the brink of a socio-economic crisis by committing to a bold and creative path towards a sustainable and just renewable-powered future," concluded O'Brien-Onyeka.

Contact:

1. Jan Schwarz, Communications, Greenpeace Africa +27823553718

2. Fiona Musana, Communications Director, Greenpeace Africa, +27798940495

Notes to the Editor

1. State of the Nation Address 2013: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=14960

2. In the past year, South Africa's R28 billion (ZAR) investment towards round 1 and 2 of the Renewable Energies (REIPPPP) Programme has proven that renewable energy can deliver set targets on time and on budget. Unlike the lumbering monstrosities of Medupi and Kusile – the two over-budget and behind-schedule coal-fired power stations which are currently costing the taxpayer R240bn. Not only is this dirty energy failing to deliver any real benefit to the nation but in the process of wasting money, these projects will also worsen the looming water crisis. Even at this early stage, gains in the delivery of energy has resulted in the Energy ministry increasing its allocation of Concentrated Solar Power to 200 MW in Round 3 of the programme.