Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Photo: Twitter / Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, believes that Eskom employees are the heart of resolving South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis.

“My view has always been the biggest asset for any organisation is its workers and the reason we’re starting from the bottom up is to appreciate and understand the efforts being made at the station level,” he told media on Monday, during a visit to the Duvha Power Station.

Yesterday’s visit to Duvha and Kriel power stations marked the start of the minister’s tour of Eskom’s 14 power stations nationwide, during which he will engage with management, workers and unions.

“I committed to the country that we’ll be at the station level, examining the issues that affect every unit and getting from the station manager, organised labour and workers about what are the interventions, in their opinion, they think are appropriate to help scale up energy availability,” he told media.

Ramokgopa dismissed accusations that his fact-finding exercise was triggered by Monday’s national shutdown, called by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

However, he said, over the next seven days he will continue to talk with workers to understand the nature and scale of the problem and update the Energy Action Plan (EAP), which President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled last year.

Ramokgopa believes that the EAP’s first pillar, which speaks to improving the availability of existing supply system stability and increasing generation capacity was important.

He said this would enable Eskom to address the 6 000 MW deficit in the energy ecosystem, which according to the Minister, will be derived from the 81 Eskom existing units across the country.

“It’s important that we have an appreciation that the people who live and breathe these units are the people from Eskom. Some of them have accumulated experience of 25 years,” he said.

“We’re joined at the hip and it’s them who are in the cold face of the day-to-day interaction of these units. But I’m the public face of how we’re going to resolve load shedding.”

South Africans experienced lower stages of load shedding for the first time in a long while this past weekend, with some citizens saying that “they do not know what to do with so much power”.

Ramokgopa admitted:

“To get to a stage where people find it very strange to have electricity for a day or two days in succession… underscores the gravity of the problem.”

However, he said, government’s interventions did not start with the Minister of Electricity.

“The Energy Action Plan has been there and all we’re doing [is] accelerating [the action] and of course, we can see that six power stations are beginning to pick up and the energy availability factor is going up.”

President Ramaphosa appointed Ramokgopa to the post on 6 March.

Ramokgopa’s primary goal, according to the President, will be to drive the SA government’s programme of significantly reducing the “severity and frequency of load shedding as a matter of urgency” and to expedite government’s work to ensure the full implementation of the EAP.

“I am confident about our ability to address the crisis,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

WATCH Dr Ramokgopa today at Eskom’s Kusile Power Station