Can Southern AfriKa Turn The Energy Crisis Into An Opportunity?

The Key is – “to embrace the idea that abundance comes from this unified field. Within it lies the power of infinite creativity.” – D. Chopra

As a civilization struggling with a multitude of problems, mostly based on our reluctance to embrace the necessary paradigm shifts, in consciousnes as well as in how we approach work, life and the energy we use, we are doomed if we remain unwilling to transform the way we live.

Now, remember, gloom and doom is not our destiny, destruction is neither in our integral nature or design, but it has become part of our reality simply by force of habit. We are capable of cultivating new habits, we are able to create and use energy in ways that are both scientifically sound as well as metaphysically holistic. Let us begin where we currently are and see what we are struggling with and from this place we can reach into our inate creative resources and begin to build a civilization that is truly civil as well as joyously energy efficient.

Lessons from South Africa’s Recent Experience –

Refering to the South African context, the Energy Roundtable that gathered in 2015 made the following observations. 

“An Energy Role Model Under Strain. There was a strong consensus at the Roundtable on the need for a common pathway forward and a ‘holistic and regional solution’ to South Africa’s current power crisis. South Africa still boasts the largest ratio of population power access in sub-Saharan Africa and, compared to the rest of the region, highly-sophisticated energy infrastructure. Though, after nearly three decades without significant investments in its power generation capacity, South Africa is plagued by scheduled blackouts, its net power exports to neighbouring markets have nearly dried up and decision-makers appear trapped in crisis management.”

( – exerpt from a summary prepared by Enrique Manzanares, Leungo Motlhabane and Terence McNamee, 2015)

The energy crisis experienced by the Republic of South Africa appears to be taking much longer to solve than expected. After many panel discussions, high-level negotiations with various, most relevant stakeholders, it appears that the country is nowhere near a sustainable solution. There are many experts in this field, there are also just as many opinionated opportunistic forces doing their best to edge their way into a challenge that is not only costing the entire economy tremendous strain, but each and every citizen is mostly affected negatively. We are supposed to be forging ahead with the 4th industrial revolution, which requires a particular level of infrastructural development, scientific research and knowledge aquisition and investment at an international level. This revolution also requires wide and far-reaching improvements in both basic and higher education, yet we find ourselves struggling on all these important developmental froentiers. How do we forge an inclusive technologically based industrial revolution when we can barely keep the lights on?

As already stated, there are many opinions about what should be done, but judging from this highlevel roundtale held almost a decade ago, when the dark spectre of load-shedding was already upon the country, some solutions are easier stated than implemented. Aside from many proposals offered at this special meeting between industry leaders and stakeholders, this was shared; “The Economist recently speculated that ‘Africa has the potential to jump from being the world’s electricity laggard to a leader in renewables’. Yet such enormous opportunities will not be realized unless governments and private sectors in Africa address serious challenges in capacity, bureaucratic effectiveness and leadership.”

The most persistent Afrikan challenge continues to be the incompetence of the leadership, the political as well corporate bureaucracies appear to always be at logger-heads, consistantly hampering any opportunities for pragmatic improvements in the energy generation sector. Although many have recognised this for the longest time, very little has been done to improve matters. Southern Afrikan governments appear to not share the same interests as energy producers, whether indipendent or national. It is not only government red-tape and legislation that causes bottlenecks and lack of implementation of the best ideas, it is the additional tug-of-war between labour and unions, as the latter has set itself the impossible task of saving every job while at the same time not offering adequate solutions regarding the leveraging of new opportunities in emerging technologies and the upskilling of the working-class.

In the deliberations around the Just Transition from over-reliance on fossil-fuels into a sector characterised by a richer energy mix, many considerations have been raised. They are the pillars of resilience for a transformative just transition and at least three have been identified, namely; 1. Green decent work agenda which sould contribute to climate resilience for the most vulnerable communities while supporting job creation. 2. Social protection – the provision of safety-nets for vulnerable communities which are hardest hit by energy poverty as well as the effects of climate change. According to scholars (Bahadur et al. 2015) Social protection builds direct resilience through absobtive capacity, anticipatory capacity and adaptive capacity. For example, during and after climate disasters such as flooding, heat waves, and droughts, absorptive capacity allows affected communities to absorb and cope with shocks and stresses (Basani Baloyi, Katrina Lehmann-Grube, Hlengiwe Hadebe and Prabhat Upadhyaya).

Thirdly, the energy crisis is also an opportunity for serious consideration of committed and visionary investments in renewable energies. While assurances have been offered by various countries, international organisations and industries and state owned companies regarding the number of jobs that will be created through renewable energy generation based on a wide range of models, investments appear to remain a trickier terrain. A job guarantee is a public employment scheme which can improve resilience to climate change by minimising the impoverished worker’s exposure to transition risks, by transfering these risks to the state as the employer of last resort. This kind of scheme requires a well managed and maintained partnership between the private sector and government. At the moment there appears to be an unhealthy and thus unproductive tension between governments and the private sector.

The debacle at the country’s main energy supplier Eskom did not begin recently. Problems with the whole infrastructure have been identified since even before the advent of the current regime, but progress in terms of implementing some of the most lucrative solutions have been curtailed by ideological biases or the stalemate between a radical socio-economic transformation which requires an overhaul of the entire system and neo-liberal ideas that seek to maintain a course that is more market based where energy generation is primarily relegated to the private sector.

Lastly, there is no hope for improvement in the energy sector as well as a justified transition into renewable energies in Southern Afrika when the Land question remains unsolved. Given the unequal access to land due to raciallised capitalism and the nature of the anti-black structural make-up of South Africa, a lot of Black South Afrikans are extremely vulnerable to climate change related crises. Only a radical agenda that focusses all energies on the wellbeing of people and nature can take Southern Afrika forward. Unless the majority of its citezens is removed from the precarious and unproductive land masses we currently reside in, there can be no serious progress in implementing a just energy transition. We need new urban precincts and radically improved rural and semi-rural developments where renewable energy resources are introduced from the very inception of those developments and the benefits of Zero Waste principles is introduced from the basic education level all the wat to tertiary and at work. All half hearted and fossil fuel based strategies are doomed to cost us time, money and loss of many lives.


Published by greenankhworks

Healer, Translator, Lover, Writer, Father, Natural Health Promoter, Connector, Communications Consultant, Instigator, and Reviver of IKS

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