Ramaphosa sees 'great value' in private-public sector partnerships

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Gulshan Khan, AFP)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Gulshan Khan, AFP)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that stronger partnerships need to be forged between government and the private sector as part of a plan to strengthen state-owned enterprises.

The president's remarks come as Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe wrote to the National Energy Regulator of SA, granting the regulator permission to licence applications from private enterprises to generate their own electricity, opening the doors for private business to feed the national power grid.

"Partnerships is what help to resolve many of our problems. We see great value in working with the private sector," Ramaphosa said on Wednesday in Johannesburg during a post-election economic address at a conference hosted by the Goldman Sachs Group.

The dire financial state of the country's state-owned entities such as Eskom has been identified by ratings agencies and global lenders as one of the major threats to the local economy.

Ramaphosa told investors gathered at the conference held in Johannesburg that government was going to look very closely at how to forge partnerships with not only labour but with private sector on how to help the country run public corporations, to a point where they can take equity positions.

"There is a great deal of value to be extracted when there is a collaboration between private sector and public sector," he said.

Early this year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced plans to split Eskom into three entities, in a bid to improve efficiency of the state-owned power utility.

The announcement has been criticised by unions fearing job losses as an attempt to privatise the struggling company, something Ramaphosa has dismissed.

"People have feared privatisation because where it has happened it has led to job losses, it has led to defocusing public enterprises from their developmental mandate," said Ramaphosa.

He also told investors that government has set up a state-owned enterprise council which he chairs and would look closely at all the state-owned enterprises.

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