‘Let’s find new energy source’ -says Zumah

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Suleiman Mustapha

President Jacob Zuma says new ways of producing goods, which will reduce both the economy's use of energy and emissions from energy production have to be found.
Government is to invest billions in mass transport systems as a way of "greening" the South African economy, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
"By 2014, the state-owned commuter rail company, Prasa [Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa], will invest R20-billion in new trains, most of which will be manufactured locally", he said.
He was addressing the World Economic Forum Green Partnership Dialogue at COP17 in Durban as part of government's New Growth Path, which seeks to reduce emissions by focusing on renewable and nuclear energy, green transport and the built environment.
"Government will invest in mass-transport systems to reduce reliance on private cars. Initial steps have been taken on bus rapid [transit] and commuter rail", said Zuma.
This, according to Zuma, will require a profound and far-reaching change in the country's economy, and will affect how business is done.
"It is not a job just for government or business or labour alone. It is something we must work on together," said Zuma at the World Economic Forum Green Partnership Dialogue on Sunday.
Transforming production means to make them more environmentally sustainable in the long term would open the door to new investment, production and employment prospects, said Zuma.
South Africa is the largest producer of electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, generating 90% of its electricity from coal. The country has committed to securing 4 000 megawatts of renewable energy for the national grid by 2016. This is more than the City of Durban uses in a year.
The solar and wind energy industries have targeted the creation of at least 50 000 green jobs by 2020, with government pledging its support for the installation of one million solar water heating systems by 2014 to 2015.
This would also provide the basis for expanding local production of components and heating systems.
Zuma said bringing in new sources of electricity required government to regulate the national grid, and that it needed business to invest and bring its technological and managerial expertise to the table.
"Above all, we must make sure that poor communities do not end up footing the bill, whether through job losses or high prices.
"We are encouraging more labour-intensive activities that can create employment opportunities on a mass scale," he said.

 

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