Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, will on Thursday, on behalf of the South African government, receive the first consignment of energy equipment donated by the People’s Republic of China at a handover ceremony scheduled to take place in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
The donation happens 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.
In a media advisory, Ramokgopa’s office said the donation formed part of the Technical Assistance Programme that was entered into in August 2023 during China’s President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to South Africa.
“The first consignment which has arrived in South Africa consists of 450 gasoline 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 whilst government continues to implement the Energy Action Plan to ultimately end load shedding and create sustainable energy security.”
Part one of the handover of the major donation is set to be the inspection of the generators at Eskom Howick CNC stores in Merrivale, followed by the official programme – a school installation site at Newton Pre-Vocational School, in Pietermaritzburg.
In August, IOL reported that South Africa expressed deep appreciation for China’s support in addressing the current energy challenges.
The assistance by the Asian economic powerhouse includes the donation of emergency power equipment worth R167 million and availing a grant of approximately R500 million as development assistance.
Ramaphosa said that the relationship between the people of South Africa and China stretches back many decades.
Earlier this month, Ramokgopa said healthcare facilities in remote and rural areas across South Africa will soon not be impacted by power cuts, even when Eskom is load shedding, thanks to the Chinese donation.
At the time, Ramokgopa announced that South Africa had received the first shipment of R170 million in emergency power equipment, donated by the Chinese government.
At the BRICS Summit hosted by South Africa in August, Ramokgopa signed a joint memorandum of co-operation with Chinese entities that made available a grant of about R500m as development assistance to alleviate South Africa's crippling energy crisis.
The Chinese government, through eight State-owned companies, agreed to supply South Africa with 552 alternative energy units - ranging from 6kW generators to 200kW diesel generators, power supply vehicles and off-grid PV energy storage supply systems - to help cushion public facilities such as schools and hospitals from load shedding.
The official handover on Thursday happens at a time when Eskom has yet again plunged the country into darkness, citing insufficient generation capacity.
The power utility said there is a need to replenish emergency reserves.
On Tuesday morning, Stage 5 load shedding was implemented and at around 8pm, Stage 6 kicked in, until Saturday.
This was “due to insufficient generation capacity and the need to further replenish emergency reserves”, said Eskom spokesperson Daphne Mokwena.
“Eskom will closely monitor the power system and communicate any changes to load shedding should it be required.”