The University of Venda (UNIVEN) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Part of the agreement in this MoU is 1 million Rands fund that will benefit Physics students who will be funded from master’s to PhD level of their studies. The signing ceremony of this MoU took place at the University’s Education Building, Lecture Hall 1. Prior to the signing ceremony, Head of Energy Secretariat at SANEDI, Prof Sampson Mamphweli addressed the audience on the history of electricity generation in South Africa. He said Eskom started building power stations to supply low-cost electricity. He continued to explain that, as times goes and
population grew, the demand of electricity increased and so did the Eskom activities. “This growth was mainly driven by the growth in the mining and industrial sector as well as urban development. Then there was slow economic growth between 1983 and 1993 associated with the shift in the political landscape of the country. This led to low demand in electricity as well especially in the mining sector. During this period, Eskom had to decommission, and they had to resort to mothballing some of the power stations until 1995.” Professor Mamphweli continued his explanation and illustrated that, at this time, less than 13 million South Africans (40% of the population) had access to electricity. He further narrated on the fact that, Eskom then started a programme to electrify villages and townships across the country to increase access to affordable electricity.

In 2002, Eskom was restructured as a public company, Eskom Holdings Limited, and this company relied primarily on coal for electricity production until the South African government published a white paper on renewable energy in 2003. This white paper flagged the project shortage of generation capacity by 2007/8. He said they were serious delays in the introduction of renewable energy in the country until government published the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010-2030) that set a target of 14725 Megawatts renewable energy contribution.

When talking about challenges of security electricity supply Prof Mamphweli highlighted that loadshedding disrupts our daily life and it causes inconvenience to individuals. He indicated that, companies were closed, and people lost jobs because of loadshedding. “There is a dire need to urgently attend to loadshedding because it also aggravates socioeconomic inequalities. If we can secure the supply of energy in our industries, we could have a strong economy.”

He indicated that there is also a need to open for the private sector to provide energy.

“We will soon be running the future power system using the available technologies of today.” He then indicated that Eskom returned several units that were down for maintenance to service, and they have proven to be reliable, adding about 3000 Megawatts to the grid. “This is also because of the growth in rooftop solar photovoltaic from households and small businesses. It has resulted in lower electricity demand.”

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin (on the photo above) said this event is one of the most important events of this University. The MoU between the two parties will benefit students and staff members. Dr Martin said students should not only focus on studies, he told them that they should also know that there is life after university life which we need to prepare for while we are still students. “UNIVEN is excited about this collaboration because it fits well in the Strategic Plan of this University. This MoU also resonates well with the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation of this University. We want to teach the world on how to make impact and how to serve the world.” When announcing the areas of collaborations, CEO of SANEDI, Dr Titus Mathe (on the photo in the next page) said coal will be with us for the next 100 years to come. He also presented SANEDI’s competitive advantages. He presented about what SANEDI wants to achieve and its objectives, missions, and visions. Prof Bernard Nthambeleni thanked SANEDI colleagues for thinking about UNIVEN when they thought of a University to partner with. We believe this MoU will bear the intended fruits because at UNIVEN we fulfil our promises.
Prof Eric Maluta said the 1 million Rands will assist students in physics who will be funded from master’s to PhD level. “The University of Venda has a plan for making the campus to be green, by starting to build a 1 megawatts solar plant, which is aimed to be 5 megawatts solar plant”. The energy will also be used to assist the communities around the University.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
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