Energy minister suspends head of planning and clean energy Ompi Aphane

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Johannesburg - Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi confirmed that Department of Energy deputy director-general (DDG) for policy, planning and clean energy, Ompi Aphane, who is also responsible for the new updated national Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP2016) has just been suspended.

The minister indicated that a number of “compliance” issues had been brought to her attention relating to Aphane, and that he was given an opportunity to respond, which he failed to do in the three days he was given.

“I cannot divulge the reasons for the suspension yet as we need to let the internal process to take place. We are not saying he is guilty, but we are awaiting an explanation,” said Kubayi.

The IRP2016 for which Aphane was responsible is a crucial national planning document intended to review past electricity demand, and to forecast future demand for the next 20 years and more, with detailed plans on how such demand will be met in terms of new generation capacity.

The previous IRP2010-2030 is long out of date, and the updated IRP2016 has been more than two years in gestation, and still has not been gazetted. In the meantime, the electricity supply industry is stalled, with all plans for new generation capacity – nuclear, coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar PV – on hold.

IRP deadline brought forward for 2018 budget

Kubayi previously indicated that the final updated IRP2016 would be gazetted by the end of the last quarter of the 2017/18 financial year, i.e. the end of March 2017.

However, Kubayi indicated that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba requested this be brought forward to the end February 2018 to align with the national budgeting process, and that she has committed to this. She also indicated that she would in fact try for an earlier date, perhaps even before the end of 2017.

Asked about the impact of Aphane’s suspension on the timeline for the completion of the national Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and IRP2016, Kubayi responded: “The work on the IEP and IRP is not being slowed down by this. It is being done by a team, and we have appointed an acting DDG to manage Mr Aphane’s responsibilities. I constantly meet with them to check on progress and to make sure they are reaching their timeframes”.

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