Discussion aims to seek solutions to load shedding

Host Africa Melani with the panel, Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy; mayoral committee member for energy, Beverley van Reenen; mayoral committee member for economic growth, James Vos; the City’s director for enterprise and investment Lance Greyling and the chief executive officer of GreenCape, Mike Mulcahy.

Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town held an energy discussion at the Cape Sun hotel with stakeholders and interested parties convened in the wake of South Africa’s load shedding crisis, to engage on the issue of outages and steps being taken to mitigate the disruption.

Speakers at the discussion on Thursday March 23 included Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy; the City’s mayoral committee member for economic growth, James Vos; mayoral committee member for energy, Beverley van Reenen; Kadri Nassiep, the City’s executive director for energy and the chief executive officer of GreenCape, Mike Mulcahy.

In its recent Cape Town Powering On 2023 survey of local tourism businesses, Cape Town Tourism found 81% of participants said they are affected by load shedding, with 56% solely reliant on the electricity supply to operate.

“We know that the erratic outages are causing continued stress and business disruption for local tourism businesses. Our survey showed 30% of participants have no additional source of electricity. About 70% said they are investigating alternative energy sources. These are not cheap, with the initial installation coming with a hefty price tag,” said Mr Duminy.

“We convened the energy discussion to engage with our industry and assure them that we are actively seeking ways to mitigate disruption. We will continue to partner with our members to help them navigate new solutions like the ‘cash for power’ initiative.

Mr Duminy said South Africans are resilient, and had overcame many crises. “I haven’t heard anyone come here for our electricity – they come for our natural beauty and our diversity and warm hospitality.”

With load shedding now in its 16th year, Mr Vos said it has had a devastating impact on Cape Town’s economy and businesses.

He said for this reason, the City had been exploring ways to find sustainable solutions and eventually stop load shedding in the city.

He mentioned some of the projects under way, including partnering with GreenCape to help facilitate the launch of EnerG Africa, the first all-female workforce solar panel manufacturer in Ndabeni.

He said ideas of using South Africa’s wind and sun to produce energy are also being explored. “We need to use the sun, the wind and our resources in a way that is sustainable. We have opened up those conversations.”

Ms Van Rheenen said the City has been able to limit some load shedding by building up reserves from the Steenbras hydro pumped storage scheme.

A 500MW tender to buy power on the open market had also opened.

“This will capacitate the Cape Town grid and provide protection against at least four stages of load-shedding across the next three years.”

She said the goal was to be carbon neutral by 2050. “We want to facilitate, promote and connect with businesses to address the challenge we face.”

The City has partnered with GreenCape to boost the regional green economy and attract investment in the green economy sector. Speaking to the green economy, Mr Vos said that there’s never been a more critical point to make real commitments to the vast energy opportunities of renewables. “Investment in these sectors is good for business, people, and the planet, and, therefore, the City and our partners stand ready to work with industry, so that we can make Cape Town the easiest place to do business in Africa.”

Ms Van Reenan additionally touched on the City’s plans to pay cash for power, which should go into effect by June. This complements finance minister Enoch Godongwana’s announcement that businesses can reduce their taxable income by 125% of the cost of an investment in renewables.

Furthermore, the Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme will soon guarantee solar-related loans for small and medium enterprises.

Mr Mulcahy added that having load shedding everyday has pushed people to explore other ways to have electricity, and more opportunities for people to feed into the grid should be discussed.