Rich nations greenlight South Africa coal transition plan

By The Africa Report and AFP

Posted on Tuesday, 8 November 2022 12:23
South Africa coal miners eye rail investments as crumbling infrastructure depresses exports
A Transnet Freight Rail train is seen next to tons of coal mined from the nearby Khanye Colliery mine, at the Bronkhorstspruit station, in Bronkhorstspruit, around 90 kilometres north-east of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Wealthy nations endorsed South Africa's five-year Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET IP) to support the country's move away from coal on Monday, which could potentially serve as a template for other developing countries.

The announcement was made at the UN’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, where developed countries are under pressure to step up their efforts to aid developing countries green their economies.

Britain, France, Germany, the United States and the European Union will provide $8.5bn in the form of grants and loans to help South Africa decarbonise its economy, they said in a joint statement. Funding will come via the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), which was first announced last year at the COP26 in Glasgow.

The funds will go towards decommissioning coal power plants and investments to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, including new energy vehicles and green hydrogen projects.

Negotiations were tricky, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa saying Friday that the country needed more money to green its economy.

Africa’s biggest economy relies on coal for 80% of its electricity generation.

According to the pathway, JET IP requires ZAR1.5trn ($85bn) over five years. Including the $8.5bn, there is a current shortfall of approximately ZAR700 billion (44% of the total). The hope is that the private sector will fill in the gap.

“Our support for South Africa’s clean energy and infrastructure priorities, which include efforts to provide coalminers and affected communities the assistance that they need in this transition, will help South Africa’s clean energy economy thrive,” US President Joe Biden said in the joint statement.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options