Rethinking strategic sustainability planning for the electricity sector in South Africa

Mqadi, Lwandle Jackie ; Musango, Josephine Kaviti ; Brent, Alan C. (2018)

CITATION: Mqadi, L. J., Musango, J. K & Brent, A. C. 2018. Rethinking strategic sustainability planning for the electricity sector in South Africa. South African Journal of Industrial Engineering, 29(1):63-73, doi:10.7166/29-1-1654.

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A series of processes is now converging to force the issue of sustainability to drive South Africa’s low-carbon energy transitions. This raises the question of how a ‘sustainability transition’ framework can be conceptualised to address the challenge of low-carbon electricity transitions in South Africa. This paper, therefore, critically reviews the strategic electricity planning process in South Africa within an established sustainability transitions theoretical framework. From the literature, it is observed that the challenges facing South Africa’s strategic electricity planning resulted from the related politics, from differing views owing to different stakeholder preferences and lack of transparency in terms of electricity planning, and from a lack of, or misalignment between, development policies and objectives. All these theoretical and practical gaps reveal that South Africa must rethink its current strategic electricity planning practice, especially considering the country’s political economy. This paper, therefore, proposes a conceptual complexity-planning framework to ensure that the complex sustainability policy objectives are aligned within the electricity planning process.

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