President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma says that transformation in the energy sector is paramount and international investors will have to partner with South Africans in the future.

Zuma was addressing the Energy Indaba held in Midrand on Thursday, convened by Energy Minister David Mahlobo. It had been anticipated that Mahlobo would use the event to unveil the latest iteration of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which spells out government’s energy plans for the next 20 years.

In his opening remarks, Mahlobo told delegates that "by next week we will give you the plan", in an apparent reference to the IRP.

Zuma praised the success of SA’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPP), which he described as "one of the most successful in the world".

The programme has attracted more than R190bn in investment, much of it from large European energy companies. While these companies do have empowerment partners, there has been disquiet in government circles for some time that the benefits are not spread widely enough.

SA favoured an energy mix that included coal, renewable energy, nuclear and hydro, Zuma said. He noted that there had been lots of debate on the type of energy.

"We must also remember that in energy, transformation is paramount to ensure a sustainable future. The ANC adopted radical economic transformation as policy at its national conference in 2012 and it automatically became government policy. The ANC has defined radical economic transformation as fundamental change in the structures, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership and control of the economy, in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor."

Zuma said he invited foreign investors to ensure that their investment furthered the participation of black people.

The gathering included a large number of energy entrepreneurs, as well provincial and national public representatives and foreign diplomats. There also appeared to be a large contingent of black businesspeople from small enterprises keen to get involved in the sector.

Mahlobo also stressed that "the sector can’t just benefit the few", and that there could not be development in Africa without Africans.

The conference will divide into commissions on various energy technologies and issues such as funding, and will run until Friday lunchtime.

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