More energy options needed


South Africa is at a critical point where any means to increase energy supply should be explored, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.

She said energy developments such as fracking explored ways to keep the lights on.

"President Jacob Zuma always speaks about overcoming poverty and unemployment. If fracking is safe, then it should be the way to go."

Peters was speaking at the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum held in Sandton.

The department of minerals placed a moratorium on prospecting for shale gas in the Karoo in the Northern Cape after an outcry over the potential effects it would have on the environment.

Peters said at least 25 percent of households still did not have access to electricity.

"These are mostly in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. We cannot do without the co-operation of the region and the whole continent when it comes to exploring means of energy supply."

The more options on access to energy there were, the better, said Peters.

Turning to nuclear energy, Peters said South Africa had a nuclear co-operation agreement with Algeria and was working on another one with Nigeria.

Peters said nuclear power was important. What was needed was to enhance safety measures.

"Nuclear technology is the cheapest form of energy and it is clean," the minister said.

"Koeberg station, which is more than 25 years old, still manages to churn out energy supply. We need to improve the safety measures around nuclear power."

With the Democratic Republic of Congo exploring hydro power, Tanzania working on gas and Zimbabwe exploring coal, new technologies presented opportunities for the continent, she said.

"At least US25 billion is needed annually to invest in energy projects in the continent. South Africa needs to prepare itself to be the preferred place to invest in Africa, by ensuring an effective and streamlined environment conducive for investment."

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