Lephalale — The completion of Medupi is expected to grow South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by about 0.35 percent a year, says President Jacob Zuma.
Medupi is a green-fields power plant comprising of six units rated in total of 5764MW installed capacity.
President Zuma has acknowledged that energy challenges faced by the South Africa in recent times has had a negative impact on the economy.
“The shortage of energy does not only cause enormous inconvenience to our people. It is a serious impediment to economic growth,” said President Zuma on Sunday at the milestone official opening of Unit 6 of Medupi.
The GDP growth has contracted by 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2015 after growing by 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
Challenges in the energy sector, drought conditions and a weak domestic demand all contributed to the contraction in the GDP growth in the second quarter.
Construction activities at the plant started in 2007 and the station is planned to be fully operational in 2019. Once completed it is expected to the fourth largest coal-fired plant and the largest dry-cooled station in the world.
Medupi was scheduled to be fully online four years ago, but construction has been delayed by labour unrest, leading to spiralling costs running into R105 billion. Unit 6 is expected to add at least 800MW to the struggling national power grid.
The unit was synchronised into the national grid in March and since then it has been undergoing tests.
“… we are pleased that Eskom now fully appreciates the need to move with speed to ensure that there are no further delays at Medupi.”
Government, he said, is continuing to implement measures that will remove all binding constraints in the economy.
“Our major intervention is the Nine Point Plan that was announced in the State of the Nation Address this year. I provided an update recently to the nation on the implementation of the plan, which is informed by the National Development Plan,” said President Zuma after touring the plant.
The plan is aimed at removing constraints and to boost business and consumer confidence, investment and economic growth.
Responding to criticism about why government took the decision to construct new power stations such as Medupi, Kusile in Mpumalanga, and Ingula in KwaZulu-Natal in 2005, the President said before democracy energy like education was structured through racial lines.