President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

President Jacob Zuma delivered a strong message of reassurance to the business community on Thursday that the forthcoming ANC elective conference would be peaceful and orderly.

In the opening address to the hastily convened Energy Indaba at Gallagher Estate, he said he was aware that there was "a lot of anxiety in the business community at this time about what will transpire at the conference. Let me assure you that everything possible is being done to ensure a successful conference and transition to the future."

"As I prepare to step down as president, I will work with all colleagues to ensure a successful and seamless handover to the new leadership."

The indaba, which was attended by about 1,000 delegates from the government, business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was intended to discuss issues around SA’s energy mix, amid the concern that the government was trying to force through a costly nuclear new build programme while stalling further renewable energy development.

Earlier this year public consultations were held on an Integrated Resources Plan and Integrated Energy Plan presenting different scenarios for SA’s future energy mix to 2050. The plans have not yet been finalised.

Zuma said energy was an important engine of growth and SA had made progress in recent years. He dwelt on SA’s nuclear achievements, including Pelindaba nuclear research and medical isotopes facility (recently suspended because of security concerns), pebble bed reactor research (halted several years ago) and Koeberg nuclear power station.

He said SA needed to invest in new crude oil refining capacity that would benefit the region and accelerate offshore exploration for oil and gas.

SA wanted to ensure it never experienced an energy shortage again, Zuma said. It would continuously invest in power generation, transmission and distribution. "We are pursuing our energy security master plan. We are looking at an energy mix that includes coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas and nuclear energy."

Energy minister David Mahlobo said Zuma had requested the indaba. Discussions with stakeholders showed energy was accepted as a catalyst for economic growth and stability but was also highly contested.

"If this economy grows, it must grow for the people … this sector must transform. It should not be the preserve of only the few."

This meant addressing localisation, beneficiation, industrialisation and small business. He said African growth would need African solutions. He said by next week an energy plan following from the conference would be presented to the president.

Please sign in or register to comment.