Gauteng premier David Makhura. Picture: SOWETAN
Gauteng premier David Makhura. Picture: SOWETAN

Gauteng premier David Makhura is worried that rolling electricity blackouts will disrupt major investment projects in the province, which is the biggest contributor to SA's GDP.

Makhura told journalists on Wednesday that the load-shedding implemented by debt-ridden power utility Eskom in a bid to stabilise the country's national electricity grid was “depressing”. 

“I am worried that it is going to disrupt the mega projects; the investment projects that we have locked in,” Makhura said.

Gauteng has put a strong focus on private sector investments to boost economic growth in the province, but the national government has to come to the table in providing the necessary infrastructure and support.

In his state of the province address in February, Makhura announced that various companies would announce R40bn in investments in the province. It is likely to have increased in 2019 following several events to attract more investment.  

On Wednesday evening, Makhura said he had not yet been approached by investors over the latest bout of blackouts, which saw Eskom cut an unprecedented 6,000MW from the power grid on Monday.

He said he was not speaking on behalf of investors, but that anyone who understood the effects of energy on the economy would have the same concerns.

He said that while there was no turning back for investors in projects that had already started, he was worried about new projects.

In terms of existing projects, there was concern about if “there would be sufficient energy” when they started operating. He said his next state of the province address would deal with additional energy projects, but this was nothing new as it was initially announced in 2015.

He had announced then that the provincial government had been working with local municipalities on plans for an extra 1,200MW of electricity to be generated by increasing the capacity of the current coal-fired power stations in Tshwane — which has two power stations — and in Johannesburg, which has one.

He said the plans were stifled following the change of power after the 2016 local government elections in which the ANC lost the majority of votes in both Tshwane and Johannesburg, which was then run via a DA-led coalition.

Recently the ANC succeeded in voting in its mayoral candidate, Geoff Makhubo, with the support of the DA's erstwhile coalition partners and some of the DA's own councillors after former mayor Herman Mashaba resigned.