SA president slips up: $13.4 BILLION invested in renewables, not $14 MILLION

Comments 4

South Africa has embarked on a major renewable energy programme, but President Jacob Zuma got his sums wrong talking about this at a G20 leaders meeting in Turkey.

Rolling black-outs in 2008 and the need to tackle the country’s large carbon footprint have compelled South Africa to prioritise renewable energy.

Starting in 2011, the country invited independent power producers to sell electricity to the country’s power supplier, Eskom.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma told his fellow G20 leaders in Turkey at the weekend: “In South Africa we are taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint. We have managed to attract investment of over $14 million for the construction of about 6,000 MW of renewable energy.”

Wait a minute. Google alone has invested $12 million in a solar plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

So what is the real sum invested overall? How much has South Africa really attracted in renewable energy investments?

Investments of R192.6 billion pledged

Africa Check contacted the South African presidency to request the source of Zuma’s claim, but spokesman Bongani Majola did not respond to an email.

However, a September 2015 report by the department of energy showed that the South African government has so far procured 6,327 MW from independent power producers. At the end of June 2015, 1,860 MW had come online.

According to the report, the independent power producers had pledged investments of R192.6 billion, or $13.4 billion at current exchange rates. That’s nearly a thousand times the $14 million Zuma cited in his speech.

Conclusion: Zuma slips up on dollar amount of renewable energy programme

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma slipped up and provided the wrong information in a speech to global leaders at a meeting in Turkey.

He vastly understated the investment South Africa’s renewable energy programme attracted. Independent power producers have pledged about $13.4 billion in investment, not $14 million as Zuma’s speech read.


Additional reading

Washington Post: G-20 summit fact-checked by 12 fact-checking organizations

Poynter: Fact-checking the world’s most powerful leaders – the G20 factcheckathon

How embarrassing -  we slipped up too: in the rush to make the deadline for the global G20 factcheckathon we left out a zero as well. $13.4 billion at current exchange rates is nearly a thousand times the $14 million Zuma cited in his speech. It's been corrected in the text above.

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Comment on this report

Comments 4
  1. By Frans Badenhorst

    A million here, a billion there, and very soon you’re talking serious money 🙂

    Recently, when reporting on declining ANC membership, the President demonstrated in public that he has trouble with reading numbers. It is only natural to draw the conclusion that he might experience difficulty in appreciating the difference between a million and a billion.

    On the other hand one wonders who supplied the data, and wrote the speech. Iemand gaan leiklip kap in die Karoo.

    Reply Report comment

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