South Africa: Nuclear Power’s Threat to Democracy

EarthLife Africa | 30 April 2013 |


Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy has propelled the country towards a democratic crisis. In a briefing to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy (April 16, 2013), the Department of Energy stated that it would not be reviewing the country’s electricity plan (Integrated Resources Plan 2010) this year, and that the planned six new nuclear reactors were not up for review at any point in the future. The Department’s Director General, Nelisiwe Magubane, indicated that this was the view of Cabinet.

The possible purchase of 9600 MW of new nuclear power represents the most expensive procurement in the history of South Africa and will have long-term impact on the level of South Africa’s national debt.

The day after the Department’s briefing to Parliament, the National Planning Commission released a study, conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, into South Africa’s energy future. The headline messages from this study (Towards a New Energy Future, available at are that there is no need to invest in nuclear power for at least the next 15 to 25 years, that nuclear power is not cost-effective based on the latest cost data, and that South Africa can meet its commitments on carbon emissions without nuclear power. One of the reasons why nuclear is not required now is that the demand for electricity has grown slower than what the Department of Energy predicted back in 2010…

(The full NPC modelling report is also available here).



State stands ground on SA’s nuclear ambitions

Business Day Live 25 April 2013.

THE Department of Energy, which is responsible for South Africa’s energy planning, says it still sees nuclear power as an essential part of its plans — without it targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be met.

A statement on the matter follows an initiative by the National Planning Commission to put the nuclear energy issue up for public debate by commissioning new modelling on South Africa’s energy needs…

(Contributor’s note: It would be good if these guys talked to each other – and listened.)


Gas Amendment Bill 2013 approved

Engineering News 19 April 2013.

Cabinet has approved the Gas Amendment Bill 2013.

“This paves the way for the Bill to be published in the Gazette for public comment,” a Cabinet statement issued by the Government Communication and Information System said on Friday.

Uninterrupted supply and development of natural gas to the economy is critical…

(Contributor’s note: This should smooth the way for increased use of natural gas instead of coal or nuclear based power. The gas would come from Mozambique by pipeline and via imported Liquefied Natural Gas from new East African sources, and other international sources. This is in line with NPC recommendations to exploit natural gas as an energy source over coal and nuclear.)


Study pours cold water on SA’s nuclear build plan

NEW National Planning Commission (NPC) modelling of South Africa’s energy demands says nuclear power should be delayed by years, and an immediate commissioning of new gas-generation capacity should take place to avoid rolling blackouts in the near future.

The remodelling commissioned by the NPC signals the start in earnest of what will be a highly contested policy debate: whether South Africa needs and can afford nuclear power or not, and by when.

The implication of the modelling is that no new nuclear power would be required before at least 2029, but more likely as far away as 2040 if demand grows as expected. It had been envisaged that new nuclear power would come on line in 2023.

It also means the Department of Energy should act promptly to procure imported liquefied gas and gas power stations to avoid blackouts in the highly likely event of delays to the completion of Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations. Continue reading

Coherent vision needed for green energy roadmapi

SAAEA 18 August 2012.

South Africa is at a cross roads: Now is the time to give a clear direction away from fossil fuels. What we need is a coherent, consistent vision which creates a sustainable road-map for South Africa and green energy access for all South Africans.

This is the Greenpeace response to the publication of South Africa’s National Development Plan, which it welcomes. Yet it begs the question: what does the plan actually entail for SA’s population?

National Planning Commission Q&A

The Star 10 April 2012.

THE PUBLIC has been invited by The Star and the National Planning Commission (NPC) to suggest ways to help improve SA’s future. Here are some of the responses we have received so far:

Dear Minister Manuel,

I commend you and your team on the excellent National Development Plan (NDP).

I have these questions about service delivery performance, though:

1. Which internationally acknowledged standards, or best practices for performance excellence, will a local or provincial government department be expected to use? How will they know what is expected of them?

2. How will departmental leaders measure and rate their performance against these standards and criteria?

3. How will the heads of departments benchmark their performance against their peer organisations and share “best practices”?

4. How are you going to develop a culture of performance excellence and continuous improvement, in local and provincial government departments?

5. How are you going to assess, recognise and award, on a national basis, the leaders in excellent performance in any department, against these internationally accepted standards?

6. Will the president demonstrate his commitment to a culture of performance excellence and continuous improvement by presenting awards to winning public service departments?

Many winning nations use excellence models. The Global Excellence Model (GEM) Council members are the US, Europe, Japan, India, Singapore, Australia, and Latin America. Each of these has its own excellence model.

Common to all these excellence models are:

Leading, internationally accepted management practices against which an organisation can measure itself; a process of sharing best practices; a culture of performance excellence and continuous improvement; an approach to developing sustainable organisations in the long term; and an annual excellence awards process to recognise achievement in excellence.

The GEM Council recognised the SA Excellence Model in 2002.

I propose the following ideas for your consideration, to help the NDP succeed:

1. Form an SA performance excellence foundation which will be responsible for the SA Excellence Model derivatives. It would benchmark these against relevant excellence models from the GEM Council members.

2. SA already has an excellence model. Derivatives exist for public service and local government, small and medium enterprises (SMEs): manufacturing, construction, and agri-businesses, but I propose that derivatives also be developed for the national health system and schools, benchmarked against international best practices and criteria.

3. The first criterion for excellence is how leaders show their commitment to performance excellence. Who will provide the leadership for excellence in SA? We propose it is the president.

Nelson Mandela was an honorary member of the SA Excellence Foundation and presented the awards at an annual award ceremony. The US president presents the annual Malcolm Balrige National Quality Awards.

4. Start a national excellence awards competition for each of the derivatives of the SA excellence model.

5. Consider giving legitimacy to the proposed SA performance excellence foundation by legislation. This happened in the case of the Malcolm Balrige Awards in the US.

We could implement the proposed SA performance excellence foundation, to help your NDP.

I have been involved with the SA Excellence Model since 1998 and believe it is important and useful.

I look forward to your reply and an opportunity to discuss this with you and your colleagues.

Yours Sincerely,

Colin V Francis

Response from the National Planning Commission:

The question raises some important issues about how we can develop a culture of performance excellence and continuous improvement throughout the public service and local government.

This question is absolutely central to the work the commission has been doing on ensuring that the state is capable of playing the developmental and transformative role we believe it should if we are to overcome the twin problems of poverty and inequality.

The commission has looked at many international examples in carrying out its work, but we also believe it is important to look closely at SA’s own experiences so that proposals are carefully tailored to the particular issues and opportunities we face.

The language of “continuous improvement” is spot on.

We can’t achieve everything overnight; we need to strive to get better and better at what we do.

The commission has expressed concern that the public service and local government do not have appropriate systems in place for developing the skills and ethos of a professional public service.

We argue that SA has paid insufficient attention to where future generations of public servants will come from. Particular attention needs to be given to how to recruit young people with potential and then develop their skills over time. The draft NDP includes several proposals that are designed to address these issues.

This includes a more long-term approach to skills development with strengthened human resources and training capacity. For example, the commission proposes a formal graduate recruitment and training programme that would attract young people with a passion for public service.

We have also argued that managers need to be proactive in helping their staff to develop their skills and that this needs to include delegating appropriate responsibilities to people at more junior levels.

The plan is in its draft stages. We are working to refine and strengthen it on the basis of public consultation, and would welcome inputs and engagements on proposals we make on this and other issues.

To be an active citizen in the shaping of your country, and to have a say in the NPC’s National Development Plan, send your suggestions to makeaplan@, and we will publish an edited selection each Tuesday.