CNBC Panel Discussion – Fuelling the Growth of the Region

By: Sherole Webster

Energy security has been identified by our government as the single most important challenge that must be prioritised and attended to. This is a sentiment that is shared by most stakeholders both in private and public sectors. South Africa and the region have various energy resource reserves to fuel its development. One of the most important questions is how do we all work together to secure energy for future growth.

This was the premise for the panel discussion which was recorded at the CNBC Africa studios in Sandton on 15 May 2015. The panel discussion hosted by Nozipho Mbanjwa, opened the grounds for conversation between industry leaders within the energy sector. The panel consisted of Sizwe Mncwango, acting CEO Thebe Energy & Resources; Bonang Mohale, Chairman: Shell South Africa and Ompie Aphane, Deputy Director General Energy Policy and Planning, Department of Energy.

The purpose of the discussion was to raise debate amongst industry leaders on the issue of energy security. It was important to gain insights on the stance of both government and the private sector on this pressing issue.

Sizwe Mncwango introduced an interesting topic “the energy trilemma” which refers to energy security, environmentally sustainable energy and accessibility and affordability. At present all countries focus more on the first pillar being energy security as it is crucial to fuelling economic growth but Mncwango highlighted the importance of maintaining a balance between all three pillars of the energy trilemma.

All three panellists highlighted the current energy issue that South Africa is facing and noted that collaboration between government and the private sector could help to alleviate the problem. Bonang Mohale noted that, “Africa has an abundance of resources but conversion of these resources is an issue;” as well as pointing out that, “The distrust between government and the private sector is hampering the energy sector’s progress and growth.” Ompie Aphane emphasising the point raised by Bonang Mohale stated that, “There are no adequate mechanisms to transform primary sources to the end user. Collaboration between governments and the private sector is necessary in order to supply energy from primary sources.”

Through this discussion it was clear to see that both government and the private sector are geared towards the same goal of ensuring that the energy trilemma is dealt with holistically thus improving energy supply to end users and the sustainability and affordability thereof.