Tag Archive | Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Nuclear partner details awaited

DoE gives update on SA nuclear plan….

russian nuclearThe Department of Energy (DoE) says it is the sole procurer in any nuclear programme and that “vendor parades” had been conducted with eights countries, the results to be announced before the end of 2015. To give cost details, they said, would “undermine the bidding process”.

The situation regarding South Africa’s current intended nuclear energy programme was explained during a parliamentary meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Energy, DoE confirming that a stage had been reached where nuclear vendors had been approached and DoE staff were being trained in Russia and China.

Eskom not involved

Neither DoE, nor the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who was also present would givetina-joematt cost estimates nor speak to the subject of financing other than the fact the minister admitted that the idea of Eskom being involved in the building programme in the style of Medupi and Kusile was a non-starter.

At the same time Minister Joemat-Pettersson announced that a new Bill, the Energy Regulator Amendment Bill, was to be tabled that would give Eskom the right to appeal against tariffs set by the National Energy Regulator (NERSA). This followed upon the news that Eskom would be given powers to procure, which must lead to the assumption, said opposition MPs later, that Eskom will recoup costs of financing through electricity tariffs.

The Minister said the renewable IPP programme involving the private sector had included multinationals and had been “hailed as a success” and the deal that would be struck with nuclear vendors would be on best price in terms of the end price for the consumer. Any bidding would be conducted in the “style of the IPP process”, which included support of the process of black procurement and skills training.

Contribution to grid still “theoretical”

modern nuclear 2Deputy Director, Nuclear, DoE, Zizamele Mbambo, explained to opposition members that whilst government had in principle decided to include nuclear energy in the energy mix for the future, DoE itself was still only at the stage of establishing all costs involved to the point of actual connection of a theorised figure of nearly 10GW to the national grid. To disclose costs at this stage would undermine the bidding process, he said.

The main purpose of the costing exercise still remained the final cost the consumer, he said, in terms of the NDP Plan 2030, a phased decision-making approach over a period of assessment having been endorsed by the Cabinet in 2012. The whole exercise of deciding what the costs would be was therefore relevant to how much coal sourced power would contribute to the baseload of the energy mix by 2030.

Deal or no deal

Zizamele Mbambo confirmed that in 2013, DoE had been designated as the sole procurer of the nuclearsmall nuclear reactor build programme and “vendor parades” had been conducted with Russia, China, France, China, USA, South Korea, Japan and Canada. The strategic partner to conduct the next stage, the New Build Programme itself, would be announced before the end of 2015, Mbambo said, by which time costs would have been established and treasury consulted.

At this stage no deal had been struck, he confirmed.

As distinct from the actual vendors per se, and any deals, Mbambo said that international agreements had been struck with interested counties on the exchange of nuclear knowledge, training and procurement generally.

DoE trainees already in China

chinese sa flags“Fifty trainees already employed in South Africa’s nuclear industry had already gone to China for ‘phase one’ training with openings for a further 250 to follow”, he said, noting that the Russian Federation had offered five masters degrees in nuclear technology.

The New Build nuclear programme was at present based on providing eventually 10GW of power to the grid but DoE confirmed that the indirect effect on the economy from “low cost, reliable baseload electricity is logically positive but difficult to assess”.

Zizamele Mbambo showed a graph of the possible integration of energy from coal, nuclear, hydro (imported), gas and renewables over a period, stating that nuclear was clean, reliable and would ensure security of supply with “dispatchable power.”

Opposition Members complained that the process seemed likely to make the price of electricity unaffordable to the poor and have a major impact on the cost of doing business in South Africa.

Nuclear vs. coal

Mbambo was at pains to explain that in the long term, the cost of nuclear energy was considerably lessgrids than coal and this was the reason that, for future generations, South Africa had to embark on a course that not only lead to cleaner but cheaper energy.

As a final issue, DDG Mbambo touched upon the question of approval by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and explained that any relationship with this UN body was on the basis of a peer review.

This covered nineteen issues from nuclear safety management to radioactive waste disposal and was not an audit, he explained, South Africa already having been an experienced nation in nuclear matters from medical isotopes to nuclear weapons. It was pointed out to members that that IAEA merely carried out reviews and made input.

Up to speed or not

IAEAIt was during the response to the budget vote speech on the subject of the IAEA, that Opposition Shadow Energy Minister, Gordon Mackay said that the agency had found South Africa deficient in more than 40% of its assessment criteria.   In response, DDG Mbambo did not refer to the current state of the country’s nuclear readiness at any point but confirmed there was a great need for training and this was now the emphasis.

He said the relationship with the IAEA was in three phases covering purchasing, construction and operations and although it was thirty years since South Africa had a nuclear building programme at Koeberg, the current contribution to nuclear technology was recognised.    The programme now was to create a younger generation of nuclear experts, the main issue being to build technology capacity and train trainers in the state nuclear sector.

Reactor numbers

Mbambo concluded his presentation by stating that DoE was in discussion with treasury specifically on this issue of funding training, Minister Joemat-Pettersson adding that some six to eight reactors were planned  but a this was very early, the weight that “price” would carry in determining a strategic partner was not decided.

Other articles in this category or as background
Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner” – ParlyReportSA
National nuclear control centre now in place – ParlyReportSA
Energy plan assumptions on nuclear build out in New Year – ParlyReport

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New SA cabinet

Who for cabinet?…

NAAfter a week of intense speculation, with the swearing in of Members of Parliament, the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the re-election of Jacob Zuma as President, followed by a gala inauguration process at Union Buildings, the political and financial world held its breath until the moment arose when the composition of the cabinet was announced over the weekend.

Also in the week previous, the first seating of the National Assembly marked noticeable changes in the hierarchy of the new governing alliance party. Strategic seating arrangements displayed the fact that Cyril Ramaphosa took the conspicuous seat allocated for the Deputy President.  In this sense, the mould was cast for a new period in South Africa’s political history at that point.

Ramphosa ZumaSince his defeat by Thabo Mbeki for status in the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the Student Christian Movement, former secretary-general of the ANC and first secretary National Union of Mineworkers, was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to Nelson Mandela’s release. His involvement with South Africa’s political development is extensive.  He will now bring to cabinet decisions his twenty years of business experience gained whilst remaining as a political heavyweight in waiting.

Old faces

When the seating in Parliament took place, it appeared at the time that the incumbent minister of trade and industry seemed to haveRob+Davies maintained his influence within the ANC caucus and so it was to be.

tito mboweniWith the status-quo being to some extent maintained, one would therefore not expect any major changes or shifts in terms of policy, regulations and government position of matters related to business, the economy and international relations. The “behind the scenes” withdrawal of Tito Mboweni from parliamentary lists was significant since it had been clearly rumoured that he was tipped for the position of finance minister.

If the election of Baleka Mbete as Speaker and the massive influx of ANC cadres from Luthuli House to the National Assembly areMbete,Baleka swornin anything to go by, we can expect a more controlled environment in Parliament, particularly in the light of a reduced majority and the presence of the EEF.   Such tighter control will be evidenced in the nominations of chairpersons to the various Portfolio Committees.

Also in the past week, National Council of Provinces held its first seating. Unlike the National Assembly, 80% of the members of the NCOP are new to the House. Although this House does not particularly influence national, international and economic trends, one might expect significant changes in terms of committee positions on important issues.

Thandi Modise, former premier of the North West was elected chairperson of the NCOP and who is noted for her open-mindedness and approachability.

 The final choice

neneFinally, in a major cabinet reshuffle, President Zuma, announced his choice of ministers. To the surprise of most. he promoted deputy finance minister Nhlanhla Nene to finance minister, replacing minister Pravin Gordhan. Whether minister Nene was groomed for the position or minister Gordhan, who goes to governance and traditional affairs, is needed to sort out the finances and delivery disciplines in local government, remains to be seen. The appointments are nevertheless surprising.

The size of the cabinet apparently is not an issue with either the President or the ANC Alliance.    Clearly, the issues wracking the allianceanclogo are as important as economic issues and time will tell if the appointments are a consolidation of power or a compromise.

President Zuma also confirmed businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his Deputy President. Considering Ramaphosa’s background and position, his appointment is expected to be welcomed by investors and the private sector.   As we speculated, Rob Davies is to maintain his position as minister of trade and industry, providing some continuity for the business world despite the fact that sparks never seem to fly in this area. However, DTI can be said to have had some success.

Mining and police

Mining minister, Susan Shabangu, who had been criticised for her handling of the strike in the platinum mines now in its fifth month, wasNgoako Ramatlhodi replaced by Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a former deputy minister in the prison service. Minister Shabangu goes to the new ministry of women, part of the Presidency.

radebeThe National Planning Commission and the ministry of performance, monitoring and evaluation have been merged and will be headed by former Justice Minister, Jeff Radebe, thus becoming part of the triad with the President and Deputy President. The total shake up of the security cluster, mining and energy portfolios could be set to have an significant impact on the five month strike in the platinum belt.

Left of centre

Mzwandile Masina has been appointed deputy minister of trade and industry. If there are to be “radical changes”, as President Zuma Mzwandile Masinaanticipated, this is where changes in B-BBEE might occur. Masina was formerly the national convenor of the ANC Youth League and was recently at the centre of a controversy when referring to NUMSA General Secretary, Irvin Jim, he used bad language.

Should Masina have any hold on policy and regulation, one could witness a significant shift in policy to the left, bearing in mind minister Rob Davies is a member of the SACP.

Electric shock

tina-joemattThe new minister of energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, emerging from her fisheries complications and other difficult personal issues under investigation, will have her work cut out to get a grip on the energy picture and will have to rely, hopefully, on the many experts in the department of energy. This is before tackling the complicated issues facing the country in such areas as Eskom sustainability, the petroleum and fuels strategy and ISMO.

The new deputy minister of finance is Mcebisi Jonas, former MEC for economic development and environmental affairs of the Eastern Cape provincial government during which time it could be said that the Eastern Cape did not benefit from his term of office.
This is a disappointing appointment.

Madala Masusku, former Mpumalanga MEC for finance, is another provincial MEC who has made cabinet as deputy minister of economic development in a key position without too much experience.

Mr Policeman

Nkosinathi-NhlekoChief whip of the ANC, Nkosinathi Nhleko, previously deputy minister of labour, seems to have been rewarded for caucusing legislation through at the last minute in Parliament at the close of the fourth Parliament and becomes minister of police, whilst incumbent Nathi Mthethwa slips down to minister Paul Matashile’s position, Pallo Jordan’s old post, at arts and culture, Matashile disappearing from the hierarchy it appears, as did Jordan as well.

Also disappearing is Marthinus van Schalkwyk, whose ministry of tourism goes to Derek Hanekom, moving from the ministry of sciencehanekom and technology.

oliphantOn the labour front, experienced Mildred Oliphant stays where she is and continues to implement the four new labour laws thus providing some sort of continuity.

With so many changes, continuity in the short term is the issue.

Start up time

There is clearly going to be a time gap with so many shuffles and structural changes and it might be months before the whole impetus of the fifth government of South Africa gains traction to deal with the economic and delivery problems facing South Africa.

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