The Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan couldn’t have come at a better time for South Africa, as the country was in desperate need of a jolt of positive energy going into the festive season. And it’s precisely because of energy, or Eskom’s ability to deliver it, that is behind much of the current angst.
A recent report by Deloitte projected overall GDP growth for SA at 0,5 percent for 2019 – compared with 3,0 percent globally and 3,9 percent for developing economies, and also down from the 1,5 percent forecast in government’s 2019 budget speech. The budget deficit for 2018/19 came in as expected at 4,2 percent, however the deficit under the medium-term estimate is projected to worsen to 6,5 percent in 2020/21, reducing to 5,9 percent in 2022/23.
The Deloitte report identified the poor financial position of some state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a significant concern, and further burdens the public finances. Additions to the in-year expenditure include some R26 billion to Eskom.
Against this backdrop, it is encouraging to see that plans are underway to expand the country’s capacity for generating energy from renewable sources. Three new Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs) have been proposed for wind and solar photovoltaic energy projects. When one considers the abundance of sunshine this country is blessed with and the rate at which the cost of producing electricity from renewable sources is coming down, solar should really be a no-brainer for augmenting our energy diet.
Batteries are a key enabler of large-scale renewable energy efforts, and a strong focus of several of the presentations at the recent Batteries Technology Conference was the establishment of a circular economy in South Africa for batteries (lithium-based in particular). We have the natural resources, we have the know-how, we have an enormous market locally and throughout Africa, all that’s needed now is investment.
Tesla recently announced it is building a new ‘Gigafactory’ for electric cars and batteries near Berlin, Germany, which is expected to create upwards of 7000 new jobs. Imagine if we could convince a company the size of Tesla to build a plant here, where many of the natural resources necessary for battery production are readily available.
We can always dream, but for now most of us will be focused on getting 2019 done and dusted. While this is the last issue of Dataweek for the year, there is no rest for the wicked, and work is already underway for our January edition as well as our annual EMP – Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook. Until then, it’s goodbye and best wishes to our readers for the festive season, and a happy and prosperous 2020.
Brett van den Bosch
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