FILE PHOTO: Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando, Soweto township, South Africa March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando, Soweto township, South Africa March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

A stable supply of electricity will be the number one task for the South African government, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday, amid a worsening power crisis.

Persistent electricity problems will hold back economic growth, Mboweni said while delivering his Budget Speech in Parliament.

The South African economy will grow by 0.9 percent and inflation will average 4.5 percent in 2020, the minister predicted.

“Over the next three years, we expect growth to average just over 1 percent,” he said.

The government will do “whatever it takes” to ensure a stable electricity supply, Mboweni stressed.

“We have allocated 230 billion rand (about 15.3 billion U.S. dollars) over 10 years to achieve the restructuring of the electricity sector,” he said.

The current electricity shortfall will ease as state-run electricity utility Eskom finishes critical maintenance, said Mboweni.

South Africa has suffered from electricity insufficiency for years, particularly in recent months when load shedding has become more and more common.

Debt-ridden state-run Eskom, which monopulates power supply in the country, implements load shedding as a last resort to prevent the total collapse of the national grid.

Determinations to implement the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2019 are finalized and await the concurrence of the National Energy Regulator, Mboweni said.

The IRP supports a diverse energy mix and sets out nine policy interventions to ensure the security of South Africa’s electricity supply.

It will shortly be possible for municipalities in financially good standing to purchase electricity from independent power producers, Mboweni said. Enditem

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