Economic myth grows as power demand recedes

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin yesterday insisted that the country's economy would continue to grow at the expected rate of 4percent to 5percent a year until 2010 if the demand for electricity could be reduced.

Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica also said the government was committed to the 6percent growth path.

The two said this during a press briefing in Midrand yesterday.

Erwin also said that the South African mining industry had accepted Eskom's proposals to supply it with 10percent less than its normal power consumption.

This is a desperate bid by Eskom to maintain energy supply nationwide.

Erwin said by tomorrow mines would get back 90percent of power.

He also invited other sectors to reduce their electricity usage by 10percent.

Erwin and Sonjica had met mining bosses to discuss a way forward.

Sonjica stressed that the 10percent reduction in demand was the way to go. She pleaded with the public to use electricity efficiently.

South African Mining Development Association president Bridgette Radebe said her organisation was in the business to create jobs, hence they accepted the proposal.

She said she hoped that things would work out.

"What we have to do now is go back to the drawing board and plan around the energy we have."

She said they had not considered retrenching workers.

During the press briefing president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Sipho Nkosi, praised Eskom, saying it was doing all it could to keep the mines going.

"The most important thing is that we are not going to lose jobs," he said.

l The two ministers earlier met mayors of major cities and suggested that they propose plans on how their municipalities would reduce demand.