The South African government is set to present a compelling case to attract foreign investors for the expansion of the country’s electricity transmission network. This initiative aims to address the ongoing energy crisis and power cuts. The announcement was made by Minister of Electricity Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, who revealed plans to engage with private sector players at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos next week.

Ramokgopa emphasized the need to understand the conditions and expectations of private investors to facilitate their participation in the expansion of the transmission grid. The government is in the process of finalizing a model for private sector involvement, with the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023 (IRP2023) expected to expedite the overall process.

Acknowledging the challenges posed by the current grid configuration, Ramokgopa outlined the necessity of aggressively expanding and strengthening the grid to accommodate renewable energy sources. The proposed plan envisions the addition of 14,000km of new transmission lines, requiring an investment exceeding R390 billion. With Eskom’s balance sheet constrained, the government aims to leverage private sector liquidity to bridge the financial gap.

“We have accepted that there is a significant amount of private sector liquidity that is ready to participate in that space,” Ramokgopa stated. He further indicated that discussions at Davos would focus on clarifying the model to attract private sector investment and gauging their willingness to contribute to the project.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, leading Team SA at the WEF, remains optimistic about attracting foreign investors and skilled workers. Despite a reported backlog of nearly 100,000 visa applications, Godongwana assured that South Africa remains open for business.

Addressing concerns about the visa application backlog, Godongwana highlighted ongoing reforms, including the expansion of the e-Visa system and visa waivers. The leaked memo from the State Attorney’s office to the Department of Home Affairs raised questions about delays in processing temporary and permanent residence visa permit applications.

Godongwana assured that the government is committed to creating a conducive environment for investment, and the e-Visa system has been expanded to 34 countries, with additional visa reforms underway. The Finance Minister emphasized that the e-Visa system incorporates skills requirements for the economy, aligning with collaborative efforts between the Ministries of Home Affairs and Labour.

While acknowledging economic constraints such as load shedding, logistics challenges, crime, and corruption, Godongwana expressed confidence in the government’s ability to overcome these issues. Sector road maps have been drafted in collaboration with the business industry to address these challenges and create a more favorable environment for both local and foreign investors.