Mantashe Suggests A Slower Renewable Energy Path For South Africa

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has called on African leaders to follow China’s example by checking the reliability and efficiency of new energy technologies.

Speaking on Tuesday, at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town, he said climate change was “rapidly being weaponised against the least developed. Instead of considering the realities facing each country, “climate change standards are set by the developed nations and imposed on the developing nations”.

He also took aim at Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) claiming that they “are also being used to weaponise environmental preservation to block development in developing nations”.

“This is a reality that we are facing in South Africa, hence we demand that these NGOs be registered and be made to declare their source of funding as it is done with political parties,” he said.

He said following Russia’s decision to stop the flow of natural gas, some developed nations had reverted back to using fossil fuels, with some reopening decommissioned coal-generating power stations.

“There is a growing number of developed nations, which we can refer to, that are beginning to admit that the intermittent nature of renewable energy demands baseload energy for security, which is primarily a function of fossil fuels, including uranium to generate nuclear energy. For instance, Sweden, which had taken a decision to ‘be 100% dependent on renewables’, has abandoned that goal based on science and reality that confronts them,” he said.

He added that Africa’s oil and gas sector would be a game changer for Africa, as was the case for developed nations.

“Any further delay in this regard prolongs the acceleration of the continent’s energy security and undermines our concerted efforts aimed at eradicating energy poverty.”

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said Africa must set the terms and the time frames of its own energy transition.

“We recognise the need to reduce carbon emissions, but we are also committed to economic development,” said Mashatile.

He said the rise of Africa had been seen recently in African economies such as those of Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Angola, South Africa and others thriving amid global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermaths.

“The African continent is taking its rightful place globally as an actor in political and economic discourse. African nations have acted as a bloc in their commitment to the Africa Free Continental Trade Area agreement, which aims to improve intra-African trade and investment, industrialisation and re-industrialisation for the continent’s growth.

“There is no doubt that oil and gas have an integral role in shaping the growth and development of our continent, and this platform provides an opportunity for us to strengthen collaborations and intra-trade further for our economies to grow,” he said.

“In numerous ways, the development of our continent hinges on the success of transforming this sector. The African Union’s Energy Strategy provides a suitable framework for some of the discussions at this conference. Mindful of the limitations in development financing, especially in Africa, as business and strategic government leaders, it is worthwhile that some of the deliberations also explore the possibilities with the various development financing institutions such as the African Development Bank,” he said.

He said while recognising the need to reduce carbon emissions, there was also the need for economic development on the continent.

“Carbon-management techniques should be used to assist with the mitigation of harmful greenhouse gasses whilst we introduce renewable energy sources. Africa must set its transition period with reasonable terms and expectations, specifically considering its developmental needs. Other nations globally are doing the same,” he said.