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In the 2013/2014 financial year, the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA) initiated the rooftop solar panel project meant to purchase power from private sector partners through purchase power agreements. Unfortunately, almost a decade later, this has not happened despite the entire country being subjected to months of ongoing rolling blackouts.
This is a crucial project in dealing with the rising costs and aiding the country in reducing its carbon footprint.
Since 2018, GIFA has been tasked with ensuring that the province can produce solar energy in line with the Gauteng Green Agenda Strategy. However, GIFA has moved the goalposts, and instead of producing 30 megawatts of power through the proposed solar rooftop project, only 10 megawatts will be produced.
If GIFA had followed through with its mandate, 16 health facility buildings should have installed solar panels in the 500 sites identified with a total roof surface of approximately 8 million.
The DA started closely following progress on this project from the 2017/18 Financial Year.
Answers to a set of questions tabled in February 2018 by the DA indicated that the project was at the financial close with an actual expenditure at that stage of R11 million, with a successful bidder expected latest February 2017, according to the third quarter report for the 2017/18 financial year.
Subsequently, we received an update through the quarter one progress report for the 2019/20 financial year stating that GIFA and the Gauteng Department of Health would be engaging on the way forward for the project.
The project progress report dated 30 September 2022 indicated that a private party, GIFA and the Department of Health were currently in the process of finalising negotiations on the Public Private Partnership Agreement (PPPA) and power purchase agreement.
The construction was meant to commence in the fourth quarter of the 2022/23 financial year. However, challenges arose due to an impasse with the Department of Health on the procurement option for rooftop solar PV panels, with GIFA informing the department that the project would be implemented as originally planned.
Too often, we have seen how good projects initiated through GIFA do not move from initiation to the implementation phase, where actual jobs could be created and contributions made to the Gauteng economy. Instead, it takes years due to various challenges such as delays in National Treasury approvals, moving milestones, and project stages changing often.
Energy insecurity will continue to intensify, halting any economic progress in Gauteng. Yet, the ANC-led provincial government does not seem to care that a project of this nature needs to be dealt with, with speed and delivered before the only remaining option is to declare a State of Disaster.
A DA-led Gauteng will not delay such projects but fast-track these to meet our carbon reduction goals, secure our energy supply and create a conducive economic environment in the province.
Issued by Adriana Randall MPL - DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance
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