01 March 2015, Johannesburg – South Africa’s so-called “energy war room”, established to address the country’s energy supply problems, was focused on implementing government’s five-point plan, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.
The minister said this at a media briefing held by the Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster at the Imbizo Centre in Cape Town, which he chairs.
The government has been hosting briefings on the implementation of government’s programme of action following President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address on 12 February.
Nkwinti said the five-point plan entailed: implementing Eskom’s maintenance and capacity improvement programme; introducing new generation capacity through coal;
entering into co-generation contracts with the private sector; introducing gas-to-power; and accelerating demand side management.
In December last year, Cabinet announced that a war room had been set up following the power outages which were impacting on the daily lives of South Africans. The war room is made up of the departments of Energy; Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Public Enterprises; Economic Development; Water and Sanitation; the Treasury and Eskom; as well as technical officials.
The Government will provide R23-billion to Eskom in the next fiscal year to improve its finances to minimise load-shedding, Nkwinti said.
One of government’s objectives in the medium- to long-term included the diversification of the country’s energy sources, he said, and state-owned companies were “undertaking programmes to accelerate the exploration for oil and gas”.
A number of exploration wells would be drilled over the next 10 years in partnership with the private sector, and gas infrastructure would be expanded.
Efforts to diversify the energy supply would include importation of hydro-power and nuclear and renewable energy.
Nkwinti said the government had set aside R2-billion to establish agri-parks in 53 district municipalities. The 27 poorest of these would be prioritised during the 2015/16 financial year.
“These will be fully fledged agro-hubs that will offer all services along various commodity value chains,” he said. “This ‘one district, one agri-park’ and ‘every municipality a CRDP [Comprehensive Rural Development Programme] site’ approach will include the selection and training of smallholder farmers, in partnering with the district land reform committees.”
Foreign land ownership
The Regulation of Land Holdings Bill, announced by Zuma, will soon be sent to Parliament, Nkwinti said. The proposed bill will prevent foreign nationals from owning land for agricultural use. They will, however, be eligible to hold a long-term lease with a minimum of 30 years.
“The policy does not apply to residential property. A maximum ceiling of 12 000- hectares on agricultural land will apply to all legal and natural persons,” he said.
That government’s 50/50 policy framework, which paves the way for farmworkers residing in farms to co-own land with farmers, would be implemented immediately, Nkwinti said. “Government has received a number of proposals from commercial farmers and will pilot at least 50 projects during this period.”
*South Africa Info