South Africa formally joined the International Energy Agency (IEA) as an Association country on November 6, the Paris-based intergovernmental organisation said.
The announcement was jointly made by South African energy minister Jeff Radebe and IEA executive director Fatih Birol on the sidelines of the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town. Although the two have cooperated for some while, South Africa becomes the first sub-Saharan African nation formally to get associate status with the IEA. It said that as
the largest energy consumer on the continent, South Africa holds about half of Africa’s electricity generation capacity and has one of its highest electrification rates.
Radebe said that South Africa would benefit from the IEA’s relationship and authority, and improve the government's energy planning in all sectors including electricity, gas, and grid integration. A decision to tender for new LNG import and gas-fired generation capacities, which had been expected in 2016, has still yet to formally be launched - despite a new government since February headed by president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The IEA statement said: "South Africa has made important strides toward developing an energy sector road-map that will ensure a cleaner future for the country and help keep pace with climate change commitments. South Africa’s recently drafted Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 includes the integration of a larger share of renewables, and introduction of measures to help reduce less sustainable sources of fuel in the mix" - a reference to coal which, at roughly 90%, dominates the country's power generation mix.
South Africa first inked a memo of understanding with the IEA in 2011. Radebe approved the country's associate status in March. The IEA has 30 member countries (mostly OECD nations in Europe, North America, east Asia and Australasia), plus eight Association countries: Brazil, China, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.