Martin Kingston, chairman of Business for South Africa (B4SA), has said that newly instituted partnerships between the government and private companies could bring load-shedding to an end next year.
Kingston outlined how businesses will support the government in tackling the electricity crisis, logistical inefficiencies, and crime and corruption in an interview on BusinessDay TV.
CEOs of some of South Africa’s largest companies have joined the government’s crisis committees to tackle the country’s three major problems: energy, transport and logistics, and crime and corruption.
Business leaders have already stepped in to aid the National Energy Crisis Committee’s (NECOM) efforts to implement the Energy Action Plan and end load-shedding.
The CEOs in six of NECOM’s workstreams include Sasol CEO Fleetwood Grobler, Sanlam CEO Paul Hanratty, and Anglo American chairwoman Nolitha Fakude.
Other business leaders, such as Toyota South Africa CEO Andrew Kirby and former Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo, are focused on solving Transnet’s inefficiencies.
Remgro CEO Jannie Durand and Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman are involved in tackling crime and corruption.
According to Kingston, the renewed effort from businesses to engage with the government and tackle structural issues in South Africa comes from the realisation that “if we do not put our shoulders to the wheel, the situation will deteriorate further”.
“At the end of the day, these areas are ultimately the state’s responsibility, but we can indeed partner with them if we bring you the best capabilities to bear from across the business community,” said Kingston.
Load-shedding will end in 2024
Kingston said that “there is a technically robust plan to address load-shedding by the end of 2024”, and businesses are committing resources and personnel to ensure the plan is implemented.
NECOM has reached out to the business sector to mobilise resources.
In response, the Resource Mobilization Fund was implemented and has since raised R100 million “to put technical resources at the disposal of the NECOM workstreams”.
Apart from Grobler, Hanratty, and Fakude, expertise in the form of engineers has also been committed to helping Eskom tackle load-shedding.
Teams of engineers from the private sector have been sent to Matla, Kriel, Majuba, and Kendal power stations to assist Eskom engineers with maintenance.
“If these measures are successful, we could have an end to load-shedding by the end of 2024”, Kingston said.
Why this time is different
Kingston acknowledged that South Africans have rightly lost confidence and trust in the government’s ability to address the country’s problems.
However, “I think where it is different here is that every single CEO of businesses, large and small, formal and informal, is feeling the crisis that we’re in as being one that is threatening their livelihoods, their work”.
“Indeed, the sector is concerned, and they’ve rallied around in a way we haven’t seen before.”
He said the parties are committed to being completely transparent, reporting regularly and comprehensively on all their work, and measuring their efforts against what they have done.
He warned that the results of their efforts would not be forthcoming and would take time to manifest but said progress should be seen in a few months.
In six weeks, another meeting will be held between the president, cabinet and business leaders.