This article has been updated to add more context.
Cape Town - The energy challenge was the top priority of nine government priorities for the next year, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday evening.
"Our economy needs a major push forward," he said in the State of the Nation address, indicating that he would like to "share it with you (the nation)".
The priorities were:
1. Resolving the energy challenge;
2. Upping the agricultural value chain;
3. Beneficiation through adding value to mineral resources;
4. More effective implementation of higher impact industrial policy action plan;
5. Encouraging private sector investment;
6. Moderating work place conflict;
7. Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, townships and rural enterprises;
8. Reform of state owned companies, broad band roll out, water sanitation and transport infrastructure and
9. Operation Phakisa which aims to grow the ocean economy - such as the shipping and storage of energy products.
"We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge," said Zuma.
READ: Zuma: Eskom government's top priority, to get R23bn
On the energy front, he said the government had "short and long term" responses to resolve what he described as "challenges". The shorter ones were "improved maintenance of Eskom power stations".
In addition, it would enhance the electricity generation capacity and "managing the electricity demand".
Government would be aiming to boost the balance sheet of Eskom, the state owned power company, by directing R23bn to it in the next fiscal year. "We have to work together to find solutions," he said.
Zuma said the government would be focusing on procuring gas supplies from neighbouring countries, moving to procure new nuclear power in the longer term and looking to the DRC to procure about 15 000MW of power from its hydro-electric power scheme.
READ: First new nuclear plant scheduled for 2023
He said South Africa would ultimately also benefit form the exploitation of shale gas in the Karoo.
In his State of the Nation address delayed by continuous disruptions by the opposition parties - the EFF and the DA - he said the situation was more promising on the jobs front, as the employment figures for the last quarter of 2014 showed.
"Our investment in youth employment is also paying off. The employment incentive, directed mainly at the youth is progressing very well," he said.
He said about 200 000 jobs had been created through job incentives for youths. Total employment was now at a record 15.3 million people.
"The situation is more promising on the jobs front," said the president.