Mpumalanga is not alone in facing a dicey future: Coal regions around the world are in a similar predicament and some governments have already taken steps to compensate coal workers where mines are to close.
With the world moving away from coal, the future of Mpumalanga hangs in the balance. It could become a region of ghost towns as coal mines and ageing power stations gradually close down, leaving thousands of people unemployed with few job options.
Or it could be reborn as a different kind of energy powerhouse, one that has been transformed to produce electricity from wind and solar power. A renewable energy hub, with associated industries, where many former coal workers are re-trained and absorbed into the clean, low-carbon technology.
This was one of the issues discussed by energy experts at the Windaba 2019 wind energy conference in Cape Town this week.
While the experts had no doubt that the transformation was possible, they warned that whether Mpumalanga was able to follow this path would depend on how quickly -- and how effectively -- the government could step up to the plate with policy interventions to attract the renewable energy sector to this region. The reason was...