Government plan to save South Africa – including changes to visas, businesses and reduction in load shedding
The National Treasury Department has released its updated “Operation Vulindlela” plan, which details the government’s strategy to stimulate the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Operation Vulindlela was first announced in Parliament in October 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa and is a joint initiative of the Presidency and the National Treasury.
It is a government-wide approach with which ministers, departments and bodies carry out structural reforms – and a Vulindlela unit in the presidency and the National Treasury monitors progress and actively supports implementation.
The aim is to accelerate the implementation of high impact reforms and remove obstacles or delays to ensure the implementation of political commitments.
“Implementing structural reforms is critical to sustaining our economic recovery and addressing the underlying causes of low economic growth and high unemployment,” the document said.
“Many of these reforms have been delayed for several reasons, but their urgency is heightened by the need to support a rapid economic recovery.”
Special capacity for Operation Vulindlela has been created in the Presidency’s Project Management Office (PMO) and in the National Treasury.
The Vulindlela Unit reports directly to the President and the Treasury Department and regularly informs the Cabinet and the National Council for Economic Recovery.
The plan calls for Operation Vulindlela to support the implementation of reforms in three ways:
- Monitoring and reporting on progress to identify challenges, maintain momentum and ensure accountability;
- Facilitating technical assistance to enable reforms to be implemented;
- Recommendations to the President and Cabinet when a decision or agreement is required.
Some of the key reforms described in the report are listed below.
According to the IRP, Eskom is facing an immediate power supply bottleneck between 2,000 MW and 3,000 MW in 2019, although the actual shortage can be up to 5,000 MW given a reduced Energy Availability Factor (EAF).
Operation Vulindlela is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy to build additional generating capacity as soon as possible to reduce the risk of load shedding and enable economic growth.
The procurement of 2,000 MW emergency power capacity will be followed by the implementation of two further offer windows of the procurement program for independent power generators for renewable energies (REIPPPP).
In the short term, the license threshold for embedded generation projects will be raised in order to enable new private investments in generation capacities.
Finally, following changes to the Electricity Ordinance for new generation capacities in October 2020, steps will be taken to facilitate the procurement of electricity by municipalities from independent electricity producers.
Eskom is also running an intensive maintenance program on its coal-fired power plants to improve their performance. The current high level of maintenance should have a positive effect on load shedding in the second half of 2021.
Operation Vulindlela is working with a number of government departments to launch a comprehensive turnaround support program for municipal power distribution companies that begins in the subways.
Icasa is preparing to auction a spectrum with high demand in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands.
These bands are known as the “digital dividend” because they allow signals to travel a greater distance, which means fewer transmission towers and base stations are required.
The auctioning of frequencies should lower the costs of mobile broadband, improve network quality and at the same time increase revenue for the state.
While this was originally scheduled for late March 2021, that process has been delayed due to a legal dispute between Telkom and Icasa.
The migration from the analog to the digital signal is necessary in order to free up additional spectrum for mobile telecommunications. Currently, the analog television signal occupies a large part of the valuable frequency bands of 700 MHz and 800 MHz.
The shutdown of the analogue transmitter masts will begin in March 2021 and will last twelve months.
Low-income households are given a set-top box or voucher to subsidize the purchase and ensure they don’t lose access to digital broadcasts.
Operation Vulindlela is also working with municipalities and provinces to streamline leaf-through approval and expand the provision of broadband and fiber optic infrastructure to low-income neighborhoods.
Operation Vulindlela is working with the Ministries of Transport and Public Enterprises and Transnet to ensure that the corporatization of the National Port Authority is implemented in a way that protects Transnet’s financial condition and operational performance.
Reducing costs and improving the efficiency of South African ports is seen as critical to the competitiveness of our exports and the general functioning of the economy.
Operation Vulindlela is also working with the Ministry of Public Enterprises and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) to implement the commercial separation of operations and rail infrastructure, which enables third party access to the rail freight network and accurate calculation of slots for third parties. Party operator.
In addition, TFR will work with the private sector to invest to ensure branch viability and develop strategies to enable branch operators to operate on TFR lines.
A draft white paper on national rail policy outlines the government’s remedial action to achieve a “rail renaissance” in the country to make rail a competitive means of freight and commuter transport.
South Africa’s approach to critical skills and general work visas should be designed to attract the skills necessary for economic growth and compete for those skills in a globally competitive marketplace.
In addition to releasing a revised Critical Skills List, which was released for public comment in February 2021, Operation Vulindlela supports a comprehensive review of the framework and procedures for obtaining work permits.
An e-Visa system will also be fully implemented in 2021 after its pilot project in 2020.
Operation Vulindlela is working with the Home Office to extend the visa waiver and examine the feasibility of introducing a visa recognition program to allow travelers with a valid visa to enter South Africa from other recognized countries.
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