Next batches will be worth R150 million: China delivers generators pledged by President Xi to alleviate load shedding

Two men holding hands near a generator

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, with Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 30, 2023

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Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, on behalf of the South African government, has received the first consignment of energy equipment donated by the People’s Republic of China at a handover ceremony in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

The donated consignment arrives at a time when South Africa is facing massive electricity shortages, manifesting in prolonged blackouts and festering discontent over the load shedding implemented by struggling national power utility Eskom across the country.

Delivering the batch of at least 450 generators, which will alleviate the impact of load shedding at public facilities, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong said that as South Africa is a “good friend, partner, and brother," China can very much relate to the difficulties faced by the African economic powerhouse.

“We decided very quickly to provide support to your side, including emergency energy equipment, technical experts, expertise, and personnel training. We have also been working to advance our cooperation in the field of electricity and energy so as to assist South Africa in responding to the crisis,” said Chen.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, with Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong. Picture: Supplied

“During President Xi Jinping's State Visit to South Africa in August this year, our two sides signed an exchange of letters regarding power equipment, which gave a huge boost to the Chinese side as we worked to deliver the supplies.

“In fact, even though the handover ceremony is today, a lot of equipment has already been shipped to South African hospitals, schools, and other public institutions, and they have all been up and running,” he said.

The Chinese top diplomat said the consignment received by Ramokgopa on Thursday was a drop in the ocean.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, with Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong. Picture: Supplied

“It is worth noting that the handover of 450 gasoline (petrol) generators today is only a small part of our whole package. In terms of value, it is only 5.8 percent. The next batches of equipment will be worth nearly 150 million rand, which will include five power supply vehicles, 39 diesel generators, and 60 sets of PV storage and power supply systems,” said Chen.

“They are also expected to arrive in South Africa and be put into use soon. We are confident that this package of equipment will make a good contribution to South Africa’s efforts to alleviate the power shortage.”

In recent years, power and energy cooperation has increasingly become a driver and a highlight of China-South Africa cooperation.

Through direct investment or contracting, Chinese companies have successfully participated in a number of major new energy projects in South Africa.

“That made a good contribution to promoting local economic growth and improving people's livelihoods,” said Chen.

“Longyuan Power, a Chinese company, has built the De Aar Wind Farm Project in the Northern Cape, which has so far provided clean electricity supply to around 300,000 households.

“In June this year, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa organised the China-South Africa New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference,” he said.

At the conference, over 170 new energy companies from both nations reached several economic and trade cooperation agreements.

The Chinese envoy said China and South Africa both face the historic task of speeding up energy transformation and securing sustainable economic development.

“China is actively advancing high-quality development. We are vigorously developing the new energy sector. In terms of technology, capital, and human talent in new energy, we are at the forefront of the whole world,” he said.

“China ranks top in the world in terms of the installed capacity of hydropower, wind power, and solar power. We also manufacture over 50 percent of all wind turbines and more than 80 percent of all PV panels in the world.”

He highlighted that South Africa is delivering on an ambitious programme for just energy transition.

“You are stepping up efforts to develop new energy so as to resolve the power crisis and create a prosperous and green economy,” said Chen.

During President Xi Jinping's State Visit to South Africa, he agreed with President Cyril Ramaphosa to strengthen cooperation in electricity and energy.

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

The two heads of State witnessed the signing of a number of relevant cooperation documents.

Chen, a veteran diplomat, also highlighted that even though China and South Africa are geographically far from each other, the people of the two nations have a long history of friendly exchanges.

“We gave each other support, and we together fought against apartheid. We also assisted each other in responding to Covid-19. Through all the common struggles, our two peoples forged a comrade-plus-brother special bond,” he said.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa.

Earlier, the Ministry in the Presidency responsible for Electricity said the donation formed part of the Technical Assistance Programme that was entered into in August 2023 during President Xi’s State Visit.

Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa. File Picture: Masi Losi / Independent Newspapers

“The first consignment which has arrived in South Africa consists of 450 gasoline (petrol) generators, which will be distributed to public service facilities across the country,” the ministry said.

“The generators will be used as backup to alleviate the impacts of load shedding in the delivery of services in clinics, schools, and courts while government continues to implement the Energy Action Plan to ultimately end load shedding and create sustainable energy security.”

In August, IOL reported that South Africa expressed deep appreciation for China’s support in addressing the current energy challenges.

The assistance provided by the Asian economic powerhouse includes the donation of emergency power equipment worth R167 million and a grant of approximately R500 million as development assistance.

IOL