South Africa will sign long-delayed agreements with 27 independent power producers next week, according to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe.
The signing, scheduled for March 13, will breathe life into a national renewable-energy program that was once the world’s fastest growing but has since stagnated. The deals to be concluded next week will release 56 billion rand ($4.7 billion) of investment over the next two to three years, the minister said in Cape Town Thursday.
“We are reconfirming government’s commitment, not only to renewable energy, but also to a solid partnership with the private sector,” he said.
Radebe, who was appointed last month by new President Cyril Ramaphosa, is the latest in a succession of energy ministers that have promised the agreements would be signed.
State-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. stalled for more than two years on the government-brokered deals to buy renewable power from private generation projects, with executives saying it was expensive and not always available. The cash-strapped utility has since had its management and board overhauled.
The agreements won’t affect Eskom’s balance sheet because the government guarantees payments on a six-month rolling basis should Eskom fail to pay producers, said Karen Breytenbach, the head of the IPP office in the Department of Energy.
The minister said he’s also asked officials to sign agreements including two projects under the coal IPP program as well as 19 under the so-called Renewable Energy Expedited Bid Window.