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Crime stats show that situation is ‘quite bad’ – Ramaphosa

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The latest crime statistics show that the situation in South Africa is “quite bad”, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Johannesburg on Sunday.

“We cannot be a lawless country. We cannot be a country where lawlessness just happens, just willy nilly, where anybody just does what they like,” he said.

He was speaking in his capacity as ANC president in an address to the party’s Johannesburg branches.

“And we are now saying, we have got to draw a line. The law of the Republic of South Africa must be observed and must be obeyed by all who live in this country.”

He called for “determined action” to deal with criminality.

“We saw, with the crime statistics that came out, that the situation in our country is actually quite bad.”

He said leadership was needed in policing forums and other structures to make sure that, even when there were service delivery protests, they do not end in mayhem, destruction of property and loss of life.

His comments came after the release of the annual crime statistics which revealed 21 022 murders in the 2018/19 financial year – 686 more than the previous year, and an increase of 3.4%.

READ: Crime Stats: Murder up 3.4%, sexual offences rose 4.6% in 2018/19

Sexual offences increased by 4.6% to 52 420 offences – 2 312 more than the year before.

Ramaphosa called on delegates to come up with a campaign to prevent gender-based violence, and asked them to make foreign nationals feel that they were safe in South Africa. 

He is scheduled to address a joint sitting of Parliament on Wednesday on gender-based violence.

Ramaphosa called on delegates to protect women and take up the cases of women who were raped, to help them see the matter through to prosecution.

“We must be the ones who police society on these matters,” he implored.

After being booed in Harare at former Zimababwean president Robert Mugabe’s funeral on Saturday, Ramaphosa called for peace regarding accusations of xenophobia by South Africans towards foreign nationals. 

“The strangest thing is that it is against our fellow Africans,” he said. 

He said he understood the struggle for jobs, and service delivery problems, but insisted that South Africans were not xenophobic.

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Colin Pennycuick obituary | Science

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Colin Pennycuick, who has died aged 86, was the pre-eminent researcher in animal flight over the last century. He focused on the flight of bats and birds (and their possible ancestors), and asked the question: how do they work? To answer this deceptively simple question he brought to bear a mix of sharp logic and original and practical invention.

Though he sought to ground his work in the rigorous application of physics and mathematics, he was not satisfied with abstract results and conclusions by themselves, but always sought to democratise his findings, first to the biological sciences community and then to the huge population of lay people fascinated with birds and their flight escapades.

Pennycuick was an expert glider pilot, and gained some notoriety by piloting his craft in and around flocks of vultures, storks and eagles in Africa, and condors in Peru.

The son of Brig James Pennycuick and his wife, Marjorie, Pennycuick was born in Windsor, Berkshire. His family followed his father’s army postings, which in 1938 took them to Singapore, which they left in 1941 shortly before the Japanese invasion. Pennycuick was later sent as a boarder to Wellington college, Berkshire, studied zoology as an undergraduate at Merton College, Oxford, and worked on his PhD at Peterhouse, Cambridge. There he studied muscle mitochondria, whose task of converting oxygen and nutrients into energy he viewed as the basic engine of flight.

During two years’ national service with the RAF, he flew Provosts and Vampires, early jet-powered aircraft. He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Animal Behaviour Laboratory in Madingley, Cambridge, and in 1964 began a long association with the zoology department at Bristol University as a lecturer.

Colin Pennycuick



Colin Pennycuick at work in Iceland in 1995. His career took him as far afield as Nairobi, Peru and the South Georgia Islands. Photograph: Sverrir Thorstensen

He used the first computer at the university to design a tiltable wind tunnel, which he built from scratch and hung in a stairwell. He developed and adapted aeronautical ideas from helicopter theory to bird flight and tested their application based on meticulous observations of the free-flying pigeons which he kept in a loft on the roof of the building.

In 1968 he travelled to Nairobi, which he made his base for three years, installing his tilting wind tunnel between two acacia trees to study bat flight in the same manner as he had previously done with pigeons. He then spent another two years in the Serengeti national park as deputy director of the research station there. He learned how to fly his powered glider alongside pelicans, storks and vultures, documenting for the first time their extraordinary and essential abilities to travel economically over large distances by exploiting thermals.

From here on, his career was not so much a list of academic positions and research topics as a restless migration (frequently aerial, frequently self-piloted) of his own. He flew back to Bristol in 1973 via Addis Ababa, Cairo and Crete, in and around the Shetlands, France and Sweden, and down to Bird Island in South Georgia, Antarctica. There he first used his “ornithodolite”, an instrument he designed for measuring birds’ flight paths and speed, to track in detail the soaring flight of albatrosses. He found that the standard explanation – that they could power their flight by following a specific trajectory through a wind shear profile – was only partly responsible for their ability to fly continuously, without flapping for very long times, and that instead they used the wind in several different ways.

In 1983, he left for Miami University, which became a handy launch point for expeditions to the Everglades, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Idaho, and further afield in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Peru. In 1992 he left Miami, via Greenland, Iceland and Sweden. He began a continuing association with the animal ecology group at Lund University in Sweden, tracking migratory birds by radar, and in 1994 the bird flight wind tunnel was inaugurated there by the king of Sweden.

In the late 1990s he collaborated with the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, in Gloucestershire, in tracking whooper swans, which as the largest flapping bird can provide a stringent test of aerodynamic theory at relatively large extremes of scale. He appeared in the 2003 BBC radio series Swan Migration Live, which tracked six Bewick’s swans and a whooper swan from Arctic Russia to the UK, with updates on their progress on the Today programme each morning.

In 2008 Pennycuick took part in an even bigger and more ambitious Radio 4 project, World on the Move: Great Animal Migrations, which tracked brent and white-fronted geese from the UK to Canada. With the aid of very accurate meteorological data, combined with measurements of wing beat frequency and wing shape, he modelled a gauge that could estimate the fuel consumed while these geese were migrating: this would give audiences, and the scientific community, some idea of the effort involved.

Pennycuick’s primary goal was to provide and test a physically reasonable theory of vertebrate flight, which could then be used to predict and understand how and why birds and bats do what they do. Many of his inventions, in techniques, procedures and instrumentation, were absolutely novel because he thought his own thoughts and proceeded by himself, according to the rigorous rules of logic and scientific inquiry.

A rich and exuberant publication history burst from his activities, starting with the first practical flight theory papers in 1968 and going on to include the books Animal Flight (1972), Bird Flight Performance (1989) and Modelling the Flying Bird (2008). In later years he increasingly focused his efforts on his flight software package, which grew from a small custom Basic program to a rather versatile application with graphical interface. As well as biologists, engineers wanting to know how birds manage to achieve the things they do with apparent economy of effort and energy expenditure used the program, and both groups learned from it, which gave Pennycuick particular pleasure.

He was appointed research professor in zoology at the University of Bristol in 1993, and senior research fellow in 1997. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1990, and was made honorary companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1994. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Lund University.

In 1992 he married Sandy Winterson. She and his son, Adam, survive him.

Colin James Pennycuick, zoologist, born 11 June 1933; died 9 December 2019

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South Africa’s most successful companies vs Eskom and SAA – The glaring difference

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South Africa’s state-owned companies are in bad shape, with Eskom facing years of load-shedding to keep the national grid alive and SAA embroiled in a painful business rescue process.

The state-owned airline was recently forced to cut a large number of flight routes to international and domestic locations in an effort to reduce costs.

Both companies have a number of common problems, including a bloated workforce, historical corruption, and gross mismanagement.

A trait which they noticeably do not share with successful South African businesses is stable and reliable leadership.

The massive churn rate at Eskom and South African Airways is indicative of their mismanagement and failure to perform.

In contrast, South African companies which thrive despite a competitive market and regulatory challenges have kept their strong leadership installed for many years.

We compared the CEOs of SAA and Eskom over the past five years with those of Vodacom and FNB to demonstrate the leadership crisis at state-owned enterprises.

It is important to consider not only the frequency of CEO appointments but also the qualifications and experience of the candidates.


SAA

South African Airways has failed in functioning as a competitive local airline, entering business rescue and cutting flight routes across the board.

Its mismanagement is evident in the number of CEOs the company has instated over the last five years, with only Musa Zwane and Vuyani Jarana occupying the office for more than one year.

A number of these CEOs also do not have relevant qualifications, as shown below.

Vuyani Jarana

DateCEOQualification/Experience
November 2014 – July 2015Nico BezuidenhoutMatric
August 2015 – November 2015Thuli MpsheBCom Business Management and Industrial Psychology, Postgraduate Diploma
November 2015 – October 2017Musa ZwaneMSc in Industrial Chemistry, MBA
November 2017 – June 2019Vuyani JaranaBCom, Diploma in Telecommunications, MBA
June 2019 – PresentZukisa RamasiaBachelor’s in English and Psychology, Secondary teacher’s diploma, Honours in Human Resources Development

Eskom

Eskom has seen a staggering number of CEOs over the past five years.

Some were hastily removed from the position after their iniquity was brought to light, while others resigned due to the pressure of the job.

Many of Eskom’s CEOs also did not have any experience with the mechanics of a large power utility.

The exception to this rule were appointees like Matshela Koko, who worked his way up the company ladder since being hired as an engineer-in-training 15 years before he was picked as CEO.

Regardless of experience or qualifications, lasting a year as Eskom CEO is an almost-impossible feat – which was only accomplished by Brian Molefe.

Andre de Ruyter

DateCEOQualifications
October 2014 – April 2015Tshediso MatonaMasters in Development Economics, Degree in Economics and Politics, Executive Management certificate, Certificate in Infrastructure Development
April 2015 – November 2016Brian MolefeBachelor of Commerce, Postgraduate Diploma in Economics, Masters in Business Leadership, Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme
December 2016 – May 2017Matshela KokoBSc Chemical Engineering,
June 2017 – October 2017Johnny DladlaChartered Marketer, Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme
October 2017 – January 2018Sean MaritzBCom, Diploma in Datametrix
January 2018 – July 2019Phakamani HadebeMasters in Economics, MA in Rural Development, Wharton Business School
August 2019 – January 2020Jabu MabuzaMatric
January 2020 – PresentAndre de RuyterLLB, MBA

Vodacom

In stark contrast to the state-owned entities above, Vodacom has had only one CEO over the last seven years – Shameel Joosub.

Unlike many appointees at SAA and Eskom, Joosub has extensive experience in his industry and has worked in an executive role at the company for years.

Vodacom is the largest mobile network in South Africa in terms of market share and customer base, and produces strong financial results year after year.

shameel-joosub

DateCEOQualification/Experience
March 2013 – PresentShameel JoosubBachelor of Accounting Science, MBA

FNB

FNB, one of the most successful consumer banks in the country, has only had one CEO over the past six years – Jacques Celliers.

Celliers is an experienced and qualified executive who has helped to grow the bank’s offering through both traditional and digital channels.

FNB offers some of the best consumer banking functionality in the country and has seen great financial success.

FNB CEO Jacques Celliers

DateCEOQualification/Experience
January 2014 – PresentJacques CelliersBachelor of Civil Engineering, MBA, Wharton Business School

Now read: Emergency power for South Africa – Details

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EFF condemns ‘opportunistic’ media coverage of Malema’s stayed arrest warrant

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The EFF has slammed reporting on the stayed warrant of arrest that has been issued for its leader Julius Malema as being “opportunistic”, claiming it was part of an agreement “in the interests of the court and taxpayers”.

On Monday, Malema and his co-accused Adriaan Snyman did not appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court on charges related to discharging a firearm in public.

Malema allegedly fired a semi-automatic weapon during the EFF’s fifth birthday celebrations in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape in 2018. The incident was caught on video.

He was facing five charges, including the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, discharging a firearm in a built-up area or public space and reckless endangerment to person or property. Snyman faced at least two charges.

NPA Eastern Cape spokesperson Luxolo Tyali confirmed that warrants of arrest were issued for Malema and his co-accused as “a matter of procedure”.

He said it had been stayed until their next court appearance on May, 8. This was a provisional date and the matter was not set down for trial on this date.

Later on Monday afternoon, the EFF released a statement on the matter, stating that “the CIC” – as the statement continually refers to Malema – was excused from appearing in court at the previous appearance through an agreement with the magistrate and prosecutor.

It said the reporting on the matter was “not only as harmful as they seek to present the CIC [Malema] as a fugitive, but also as opportunistic by a media that is desperate for a negative story on the CIC and the EFF”.

“The issued warrant is therefore standard procedure and is not a cause for concern for the CIC or EFF,” read the statement.

“It should not be a cause for concern for any of our supporters or sympathisers. It is a standard legal procedure that is not representative of guilt on the part of the accused or maliciousness from the judiciary.”

‘High-profile person’

The statement argued that it was in the court’s interest that a “high-profile” person only appeared in court once a trial date had been set, as it avoided the unnecessary increase in security and police.

“In this regard a held-over warrant helps the state to save on its limited resources and to continue with its business.

“We urge those in the media to be mindful of their headlines, which cause unnecessary public outrage but more importantly we urge them to prioritise researched information above their interests to gain public attention.

“The CIC will appear before the court, as he has done on various occasions diligently, when required to do so. This will be done in the interests of the court and taxpayers,” concluded the statement.

Tyali meanwhile said on Monday the State was due to provide the docket to the defence.

Malema himself didn’t seem to be bothered by the issuing of the warrant, based on his activity on Twitter.

The EFF head tweeted a photo from a popular meme video in reply to a tweet by journalist Aldrin Sampear stating a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the court.

Later, he tweeted a video, with the caption, “Cooking goat in the village”.

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The big interview with Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe

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In this interview, Chris Yelland of EE Business Intelligence explores wide-ranging energy and electricity issues with Minister Gwede Mantashe.

This includes the War Room, emergency procurements, IRP 2019, and the need for new generation capacity, electricity customers as part of the solution, the role of municipal electricity generation, the electricity supply industry, an Eskom restructuring, and the just energy transition.


On the War Room…

We have seen a number of hastily announced, reactive, and some would say panic initiatives in response to the electricity crisis at Eskom, such as the President’s Task Team, the Technical Task Team, the Nedlac Task Team, the so-called War Room, and the request for information (RFI) for emergency procurements, instead of proactive, carefully considered, robust, resilient institutionally-formed policy initiatives. How will the DMR&E, as the ministry responsible for energy and electricity policy in South Africa, bring together these initiatives into something that is properly coordinated and directed towards resilient and sustainable energy and electricity policy?

My background is in mining, where one of the first lessons is that one must never panic, because panic kills. So, I don’t understand when you refer to panic initiatives. They are initiatives to deal with the crisis that faces the country. Take for example the RFI. It is a normal practice after you gazette an IRP to issue an RFI to test the market. We received 481 responses from this, and we are looking at them, sifting through them, and looking at what is possible, and what can give us energy in the next 12, 18, 24 months, and so forth. So, it’s not a panic issue, but normal to ask for information.

The others you mention are initiatives intended, if I can speak for the President, to get a hands-on feel for what is happening. I happen to be on the War Room team, and we had our first meeting last week. I found it quite helpful because in the War Room you have a situation where political leaders interact with technical teams, including the Eskom team, where they can explain issues that are being done, step-by-step. The work is task-orientated rather than panicking.

I have never run a business, but what I know is that where you have a duty to supply a service, you have a responsibility to actually look into that service. Customers will interact with the team from time-to-time. The terms of reference allow me to interact with stakeholders depending on the issues. But the War Room itself is a government initiative to ensure that we do give proper service to the people. I would suggest that you organise a series of interviews on this matter, and talk to the Deputy President, okay?


On emergency procurements…

A particular initiative to the emerging electricity supply gap that cannot be met by normal procurement in terms of the integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP), has been the RFI to identify any immediate and short-term emergency options and solutions to fill this gap. Following the RFI, what viable solutions have been identified that can deliver projects that can make a difference in the short term, what are the next steps in the procurement process, and what are the risks?

The RFI is not for emergency procurements. It is to test the market for the implementation of the IRP. So, it is much broader than simply emergency procurement. As I said, we received 481 proposals, and this helps us begin to interact with various players. It’s a learning process, but I sometimes feel that a sense of urgency is not as clear as it should be in the department. We are working on ensuring that the department moves with the necessary speed. Officials in the department are used to working according to rules, where it takes three months to do this, or six months to do that. The situation we are in requires a change of approach. That’s why we are engaging with Nersa and everybody to say: Guys, let’s accelerate processes, because if we don’t, we are going to be plunged into darkness.

My own view is that the RFI has helped us identify a number of possibilities. To me, one of the most urgent, is the offer to convert diesel-driven open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to gas. In itself, this will go a long way to significantly reduce costs and address the unreliability of diesel supply, to provide a more reliable connected capacity. Together with the installation of modular gas engines, this will go far in terms of ensuring security of supply.

On the issue of renewables, let me state that we are going to open Window 5 because Nersa has now received the Section 34 ministerial determinations for concurrence. But we must remove the myth that by opening Window 5 there will be no load shedding in the next few years. And while we have a capacity allocation of 14 400 MW from wind and 6 000 MW from solar PV in the IRP, the actual electricity derived from this is much lower, until we have the gas-to-power and the battery industry established, and can address the baseload issue. In the meantime, in my view, the biggest game-changer is going to be gas. If we can begin to break this mode of politicising energy – which is necessary for economic growth and development – we will make a lot of progress.


On customers being part of the solution…

It is widely recognised that quickest and least-cost new generation capacity and energy will come from customers of electricity after enabling regulations are put in place. The current Schedule 2 of the Energy Regulation Act has been under amendment since early 2018, and has received concurrence by Nersa, but is still not gazetted. Will this now have to be amended further in light of recent announcements by the President and yourself to allow customers to generate for own use? What are the processes and timelines ahead to provide legal and regulatory certainty to enable customers to become part of the solution?

In 2017/18 Minister Mamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane gave the go-ahead to Sibanye-Stillwater to generate 50 MW of power as the first phase of a proposed 150 MW project. Sibanye never built that capacity, and I always use this as an example of the difference between talk and action. I took time to ask Neal Froneman what the issue was, and I got a long story about not having been given permission to wheel the power from the West Rand to Rustenburg. So, I asked him: To whom did you talk about this? I couldn’t get a clear answer.

Right now, we have a number of applications to Nersa that are being processed, and among them will be the Sibanye proposal, the Goldfield proposal, the Anglo Platinum proposal, and many others. I hope we can get beyond mud-slinging to a commitment by all of us for solutions. When we met with Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the Black Business Council (BBC), I said to them: Here is the department’s DDG for projects and programmes. We are assigning him to work with you, and if there is a bottleneck in your project, this is the appointed person to work with to resolve matters. Once we reach this stage, I think we will have gone a long way in addressing these problems.

I told Busa and BBC: Listen, the state is not a night-watchman for capital, it is a partner of capital, and until we refine this relationship, we will always run into problems, because you would want to dictate what should happen, instead of sitting together to facilitate issues. My attitude is that we must engage and facilitate developments in the sector. But let me say quite clearly: We do see customers as part of the solution. The brief of government is not the protection of Eskom. It is to ensure that there is security of energy supply to society.


On municipal generation being part of the solution…

The President, and you as Minister of Minerals and Energy, have recently provided strong signals that municipalities will again be allowed to become part of the solution as generators of electricity in South Africa, as well as being enabled to procure energy from IPPs outside the Eskom single-buyer model. Would not the clearest signal of Government and your Department’s intentions in this regard be to withdraw your stated intention to oppose the City of Cape Town’s court application to be allowed generate electricity and procure energy from IPPs? Why is the Minister and Nersa still opposing this, instead of enabling it?

The City of Cape Town must talk to us instead of going to court. Because when you go to court, you are creating a precedent that can be applied across the board, instead of finding a solution to the particular problem. It is the City of Cape Town that must withdraw the case, come to the table with the signal we have sent, and talk to us to find a solution. But if they go to court, we will have to oppose the case and explain that actually we are ahead of what is being heard in court. We must educate one another, and the Western Cape government, that oppositionist positioning does not help in solving issues.

I met the premier of the Western Cape at the recent Government Legotle, and said to him: The best way is for us to work together, but if you want to spoil everything, you will be resisted at every turn, because you behave like a spoiler, and you regard the ANC government as your enemy. We are not going to surrender the power of the national government because there is mischief driving the issue.

Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and other municipalities used to have their own power stations. So, when we refine the rules and regulations, it’s is not from an empty space. There is precedent. We must tighten it. The solutions will not be developed by the court, the solutions will be developed around the table. At best the court will say: Go and develop all the rules and regulations. The City of Cape Town can go to court, but it’s an academic excercise.


On new generation capacity procurements in line with IRP 2019…

Understanding the time-lines of the regulatory, procurement and construction processes, and working back from the dates in Table 5 of IRP 2019 for new generation capacity to come on stream, it is clear, four months since announcing the IRP, that these dates will not be met. In addition, the EAF targets in IRP 2019 for the existing Eskom coal fleet are proving completely unrealistic, which means the quantum of new generation capacity required is way out. Noting the immense cost to the economy of load shedding resulting from the mismatch of supply and demand, are the current central command and control electricity planning and procurement processes really fit-for-purpose today?

I am an old school Marxist, and I regard energy as a public good. The state has a responsibility to ensure that there is security of energy supply to society. How it secures and procures this is a different matter. But many things are possible.

Let us say a state-owned company, no names mentioned, comes to us and says: Listen, we want to open a coal-fired power station with carbon capture and storage (CCS), and we can do it in the next two years. And they propose to build it with their own money, operate it to recoup their money, and then transfer it to the state – the Build, Operate, Transfer approach. It is a very attractive proposition, although there has been no decision yet in this direction.

Others are coming to us to say that in Mpumalanga they can open gas power stations, or convert old coal stations to gas, using gas from Mozambique. But you can’t say you are going to develop Mpumalanga on the basis of Mozambiquan gas unless to have a proper arrangement with Mozambique. Yes, we could convert those steam turbines to gas. But let’s slow down with the arrogance. Let’s go and talk to the Mozambiquans first to see if we can cooperate.

In the IRP, nuclear and hydro power are presented as alternatives. While the emphasis is on the DRC’s Inga hydro project, we put in nuclear as a failsafe option. The Koeberg nuclear power plant has served South Africa well, and I do not think we should write off the nuclear option yet. If we make energy an ideological matter and politicise the energy needed for economic growth and development, we will be left behind by countries like Egypt that were far behind us.

Countries like Japan, the USA and Australia appear quite serious about CCS, and are making a lot of progress. Some of my colleagues are dismissive of this technology, but at the end of this week I am going to Canada, and then to the USA, to see a practical CCS installation. I can then come back home and say I have seen how it works, these are the reports, and I can ask our technical teams to have a closer look at them.


On electricity supply industry restructuring…

Significant international and local changes are taking place that are disrupting the old Eskom monopoly role in electricity generation, transmission and distribution. Government and your own department are signaling the need for diversity in generation and in the primary energy mix, with increased public and private participation, and even restructuring of DMR&E for better policy, planning, regulation and project implementation capacity. How do you see the future end-state of the electricity supply industry in SA? How do you see the future role of Eskom, and where do you see governance of Eskom sitting?

The vision is simple, and that is to ensure security of supply to South Africa. That’s it. Then you can quibble, and chop-and-change on how you get there. I think my colleague in Public Enterprises has clarified that Eskom must be unbundled. There is no fight over that now, we all agree that there will be generation, transmission and distribution, each with its own board, and an Eskom holding company that covers all of them.

I took time over the last two months to look into a few models for Transmission. I was attracted to the Dutch and the Chinese models, which are both quite similar. The Dutch model emphasises the central role of the transmission grid, which is the marketplace and wheeler of energy from the generator to the consumer. I discovered that the Chinese have totally liberalised generation and distribution, but tightened control over transmission. They generate all over the country, but everything goes through Transmission, which is state-owned. As we move towards opening-up Generation, even beyond Eskom, we must begin to think about the role of Transmission. This is where the state must have a tight grip in order to have its hands on the pulse of our energy supply.

In 2013, we stopped the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, and our argument at the time was: How does one create a transmission entity for procurement and wheeling of electricity when there was a single source of generated electricity, and no market? The situation is changing very fast now. Minister Gordhan has indicated they will break Eskom Generation into sets of power stations that must compete among themselves. Renewables, instead of being allowed to continue piggybacking on Eskom, must stand on their own feet in the market, and compete. And if we have any appetite for opening generation outside of Eskom, they must be also be out there competing. Distribution is diversified already, anyway.

To me, it is not an issue or fundamental question as to where Eskom sits. Theoretically it may be correct for Eskom to be with Energy. But in practice it would be a disaster right now. The Department of Energy (DoE) must be consolidated into a functional department that is solid and can absorb pressure. At this point, we have not reached that stage, but are working towards this. When I came here some nine months ago, of the eight entities under Energy, not even a single one had a CEO, and only one, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), a had fully-functioning board. All the others were dysfunctional. So, we have to get governance right first to mitigate both operational and financial risk. We are also arguing that there are too many state-owned entities in Energy. They must be consolidated.


On the just energy transition…

The global energy transition to cleaner, lower-carbon alternatives, seems inevitable. The question is: How can we ensure that this inevitable transition is carefully planned and just towards those who are negatively impacted, so as to ensure that we avoid festering political, social and economic wounds to the body of South Africa that would otherwise remain with us for decades? How can we change the destructive and angry debate from “white renewable energy” and “black coal and nuclear”, to something more constructive and pragmatic, less ideological, deracialised and using less extreme language, in order to create an atmosphere that is more conductive to dialogue and resolution of the core issues?

You see, this question is much bigger than South Africa, because it feeds into a global phenomenon of how this thing is debated. My worry is that weaker states are not given any space to think and engage, but are reduced to conduits for the ideas of powerful states. If Europe says we must close coal now, we are expected to say: Yes Sir. We are not given a chance to explain that we have huge deposits of coal, and can we please look into developing cleaner coal technologies? And then coal becomes a swear word, and anybody who is not seen to be a full convert to renewables is treated like an enemy and is shouted down and labeled.

When I raise the question of energy mix, some call me a coal fundamentalist. I have worked in coal for a long time, and I have no problem with that. But the reality is that the biggest allocation of new generation capacity in the IRP is for renewables. So, when people go hard on me as an enemy of renewables, I tell them they are not talking to policy, and not looking at the figures, because the biggest decline in the IRP is in coal. But people don’t look at that, they just want me to say: Coal is bad, and must be switched off. But my own view is: Let’s have a discussion. That’s why I am looking to CCS to see if it can work here, why I see gas as a game-changer in the interim, and why we need to develop base-load mechanisms for renewables such as battery storage.

Take nuclear. Many people say it is dirty, and we have not resolved the nuclear waste problem anywhere in the world. But I am saying nuclear is one of the safest technologies, and that there has only been one direct nuclear related accident in the world, Chernobyl. So, I don’t understand when nuclear is projected as dirty and inappropriate. What is correct now, may not be correct in 20 years’ time, and vice versa. Scientists must continue with research and development. I follow this research, I love it, and I think we must give researchers and engineers space for this.

So, I subscribe to an energy mix – clean coal, CCS, gas-to-power, hydro, renewables, battery storage and even nuclear, because that also gives us time to study the trends as we move ahead. I am one of the those who think that a balanced approach to the energy transition would help us. The energy transition is not just about jobs and training, but about establishing serious alternative opportunities and economic activities.


Now read: Here it is – The available renewable energy which Minister Gwede Mantashe said does not exist

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Huawei Mate XS: Hands-on with the folding phone

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Huawei has revealed an updated version of its folding smartphone, which it plans to release outside of China for the first time.

It said it had made the screen of the new Mate XS more resilient than the original Mate X, following concerns that folding phones were too easy to damage.

BBC Click’s Chris Fox was among the first to go hands-on with the Mate XS, which will launch without Google’s suite of apps because Huawei is still on a US trade blacklist.

The device was unveiled at Huawei’s own event in Barcelona, after the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show was cancelled over coronavirus fears.

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