Energy Crucial To Growth In Agriculture Sector: Masilela
Investing in the energy sector is crucial to ensuring growth and development in the agriculture space; this is according to Elias Masilela from National Planning Commission. “The reason why agriculture is not doing well is because they don’t have all services they need as urban centres to make sure the productivity of agriculture compares to other sectors,” he said. “If we think of agriculture as the next wave of our growth, we need to invest in services that go into rural areas where agriculture takes place.”
Masilela added that the energy challenge was not the only problem South Africa must concern herself with adding that the energy challenge was a microcosm of a bigger picture. “We need to be concerned about other infrastructure in the economy, what we do not want to do is creating bottlenecks, sort out problems in the power sector do nothing infrastructure and creating bottlenecks elsewhere,” he said. “Power is a very important trigger to getting South Africa to stand up and do something about infrastructure but it cannot be the only thing to worry about.”
He also disputed the correlation between current energy challenges and economic growth. “Historically South Africa has run surplus electricity generation and in those years there was no positive causality on productivity,” he said. “Today we are having inadequate power but we are growing at the same rate we were growing in the past which shows that the problem in not in the power but lies elsewhere.”
He added that the one factor important to the energy sector was that it has to contribute to economic growth and development and also said the sector should also address inequality in the economy. “We should ensure that electricity is not only delivered to the rich and only urban centres but also to the rural areas.”
Masilela said the energy mix should be in line with sustainability issues adding that currently renewable energy was expensive.