Stabilising Eskom's finances is a priority and the power utility will be given R23 billion to do so, President Jacob Zuma announced on Thursday. "The government will honour its commitment to give it around R23 billion in the next fiscal year," he said in his state-of-the-nation address to Parliament.
He acknowledged South Africa was experiencing serious energy constraints. "[These] are an impediment to economic growth, and are a major inconvenience to everyone in the country."
Overcoming the problem was uppermost in government's priorities. "We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge." Cabinet was working "round the clock" with Eskom to stabilise the electricity supply system and contain load shedding.
"As a priority we are going to stabilise Eskom's finances to enable the utility to manage the current period." Zuma said Eskom had been directed to switch from diesel to gas to run its generators. Government's long-term energy master plan involved gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydropower and other sources as part of the energy mix.
"South Africa is surrounded by gas rich countries, while we have discovered shale gas deposits in our own Karoo region. "The Operation Phakisa ocean economy initiative, launched last year, also promises to unveil more oil and gas resources, which will be a game changer for our country and region."
On the country's future nuclear energy plans, he said this involved a 9600MW nuclear build programme, as approved in the 2010-30 integrated resource plan. "To date government has signed inter-governmental agreements and carried out vendor parade workshops in which five countries came to present their proposals on nuclear."
These included the US, South Korea, Russia, France, and China. "All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.
"Our target is to connect the first unit to the grid by 2023, just in time for Eskom to retire part of its ageing power plants." On hydro power, he said the Grand Inga Hydro-electrical Project partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo would generate over 48,000MW of clean hydro-electricity, of which South Africa would have access to over 15,000MW.