Energy Council of South Africa joins World Energy Council

19th February 2024 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The Energy Council of South Africa has become a member of the United Nations-affiliated global body the World Energy Council (WEC), which will serve to strengthen the standing of the Energy Council of South Africa and provide access to a range of international resources and global networks, as well as leading practice across global energy systems.

South Africa is currently grappling with an electricity crisis, which is compounding its triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, the Energy Council says.

The crisis is receiving the highest attention from business leaders through the Business for South Africa partnership with government under the President’s direct oversight.

South Africa has also made firm commitments towards transitioning to a net-zero future economy through the Paris Agreement and pending national emissions legislation, it says.

"The Energy Council and its members unequivocally support these commitments and, although the required energy transition will be a significant challenge, it is a significant opportunity for economic growth and clean industrialisation of South Africa.

"This energy transition will unlock the largest ever capital investment portfolio we will undertake as an economy, which must be put to work to reinvigorate local manufacturing, create meaningful jobs, and spur innovation and skills development for our youth," the council emphasises.

"Addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment hinges on resolving the energy crisis, progressing our energy sector modernisation and achieving South Africa’s climate commitments," says Energy Council CEO James Mackay.

"In doing so, it is also critical to ensure that the guardrails of a Just Transition are in place. A balanced approach is required that ensures that striving to meet climate commitments and resolving the energy crisis enhance, rather than hinder, South Africa’s broader socioeconomic objectives," he adds.

The opportunity to strengthen international relations and draw on international support has further strategic relevance for all developing economies that lack the fiscal strength to afford the cost of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

"To achieve an affordable net-zero outcome, we will rely on partnerships with developed economies and the growing calls for long-term sustainable repatriation of emissions-intensive economic profits from the Global North to the Global South," he notes.

The WEC's mission to promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people is especially relevant to Africa’s energy poverty challenges.

The WEC's approach to enabling and accelerating successful energy transitions directly supports the purpose of the Energy Council of South Africa, namely creating a thriving and sustainable energy future, that drives inclusive economic growth for all South Africans, he adds.

"We look forward to WEC’s support of South Africa’s energy transition and the reciprocal opportunity to elevate South Africa’s participation and voice in the global energy agenda.

"To this end, we will also be sending a South Africa delegation to the World Energy Congress in April in Rotterdam, which will be a gathering of more than 18 000 WEC affiliates and members focused on the 2024 theme of 'Redesigning Energy for People and Planet'," says Mackay.