The Minister of Public Enterprises recently called several meetings with stakeholders to effect a “call to action“ to address the Eskom debacle he described as a crisis facing the country as a whole.
Whether as corporates or as individuals, we have all suffered inconvenience and frustration through this most recent period of load shedding.
One such meeting was convened through the Engineering Council of South Africa, and included some 18 voluntary associations, related to engineering, of which the SAIMM was one.
The Minister pulled no punches, describing the ten-year history of Eskom as being riddled with problems, of poor planning, poor maintenance, poor design and loss of competency.
He emphasized that as much as we may complain about the past, the time for collective action is now.
In this regard, each association was asked where our members and associations could help in solving the crisis, as part of a collective national effort.
I indicated that the SAIMM could assist in the following areas.
We have a membership of over 5 000 highly competent professionals practicing in the fields of mining engineering, geology, valuation, mineral processing, metallurgy and engineering.
From these associations we could mobilize talent and competency to assist where needed.
On the coal supply side, our members could contribute to the effective planning, management and optimization of coal supply, to suit the operating criteria of the power plants.
On the demand side, we can explore energy saving and renewable energy opportunities, through stimulating research and development and innovative design.
As an organization, we are extremely competent at organizing events where we can provide platforms for dialogue and the exchange of ideas on topical issues such as this.
While the immediate short-term issues around boilers and pipes, and maintenance are more in the field of the electrical and mechanical engineers, we need to identify where the SAIMM can contribute in the medium and long term.
One is reminded of the quote from John F Kennedy who said “think not of what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.