‘My hands are tied’ says Ramaphosa on electricity price hike

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: Nigel Sibanda

His “hands are tied” on the decison of National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) to hike electricity prices, President Cyril Ramaphosa has told South Africans as he prepares to lead a delegation to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) in Davos.

Electricity price hikes

Eskom will be allowed to increase electricity tariffs by 18.65% following lengthy deliberations by the electricity sub-committee, Nersa announced on Thursday.

Households and businesses already buckling under the devastating impact of load shedding will feel the pinch when the change takes effect at the beginning of April.

Eskom initially applied for a 32% tariff increase for the 2023/2024 financial year and an additional 22.52% in 2024/2025.

The ailing power utility was looking to recover R351 billion through the tariff hike in 2023/2024 and had planned to recover R381 billion the following financial year.

Ramaphosa concerned?

Ramaphosa was concerned about the ever-increasing cost of living, Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said briefing the media on Thursday.

The president’s hands “were tied” when it came to asking South Africans to pay even more for electricity as Eskom battles to keep the lights on, Magewenya said.

“President Ramaphosa deeply regrets the current energy situation which has placed the country into stage 6 load shedding. The President acknowledges the frustration of households, parents and learners who have commenced the school calendar year facing power shortages.”

“The devastation to small businesses and the adverse impact to the economy remains severe for South Africa’s recovering economy,” Magwenya said.

Solutions

Ramaphosa remains “seized” with finding a sustainable solution to the current energy crisis, Magwenya said.

“The President has been regularly briefed on the situation at Eskom and on the rollout of the National Energy Plan. More engagements are scheduled for today and tomorrow for a review of the situation and direction on urgent measures that must be undertaken in order to mitigate against the impact of load shedding,” he said.

The National Energy Crisis Committee work streams “continued to make progress on several areas aimed at ensuring the stability of the grid and finding additional megawatts,” despite the current gloomy state of load shedding and ten-hour deliberate power cuts, Magwenya said.

In times of crisis

While Ramaphosa has apologised to South Africans for the inconvenience of the excessive load shedding, the president will be heading to greener pastures in Davos, Switzerland where he will participate at the WEF in the promotion of South Africa as an investment destination of choice.

This year’s theme is “Cooperation in a fragmented world”.

Ramaphosa will be accompanied by Ministers Naledi Pandor, Enoch Gondongwana, Ebrahim Patel and Mmamoloko Kubayi.

“The South African delegation to WEF will add the country’s voice to discussions about global issues, with the overall aim to position the South Africa as a competitive business destination,” Magwenya said.

Faizel Patel/The Citizen