South Africa's Regional Pre-Eminence At Risk As Others Chase Its Lead


The energy-related comedy of errors couldn't have been worse timed for the South African government's high-profile efforts to attract global investor funds and approval for its structural reform programme. The unfortunate events coincided with the IMF's growth downgrade and evidence in Absa's Africa Financial Markets Index of other sub-Saharan countries vying for the region's top spot.

The government did itself no favours last week by bungling things on various energy-related fronts during one of South Africa's most internationally visible weeks. President Cyril Ramaphosa had an invaluable opportunity to convince international investors - and, more important, Moody's rating agency - that the government was addressing South Africa's biggest structural challenges.

Instead, as he took the podium, a comedy of errors began unfolding. Nationwide load shedding highlighted that Eskom doesn't have enough plasters to patch over the truly dire state of our energy infrastructure; the facility didn't provide any forewarning or inspire confidence that it was dealing with the problems; government gazetted the wrong version of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan and, to top it all, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe flatly denied there is an energy crisis.

This came ahead of an action-packed end-of-the-month agenda that includes the delayed...

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