FEDHASA Western Cape – the provincial trade association for the hospitality industry – hosted its inaugural ‘Talking Energy with FEDHASA’ Summit, bringing together industry stakeholders from the public and private sector to talk about South Africa’s energy crisis and how it is impacting the tourism sector and hospitality industry.
The summit came on the back of the announcement of the National State of Disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February, following more than 200 days of power cuts in 2022 equalling more than half of the year, which resulted in 200% more blackouts than South Africans have experienced in any other year.
The much-needed ‘Talking Energy with FEDHASA’ Summit welcomed attendees from across the Western Cape and the country. It saw two back-to-back panel discussions, namely ‘Shedding Light on Hospitality and the Public Sector’ and ‘Switching On Alternative Energy Solutions’ respectively. The panelists included public sector representatives, independent energy experts, economists, funders, and entrepreneurs within the hospitality industry.
The latter lamented how ongoing load shedding since 2007/8 has forced their businesses to spend large sums on temporary energy alternatives such as generators – which not only cause air and noise pollution, but also eat away at their profit margins – causing some businesses to close shop.
“Persisting power cuts in 2022 were estimated to cost the economy at least R1-billion a day, according to Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe. Economists predict that were it not for Eskom’s failings, the country’s economy could be between 8-10% larger,” said Lee-Anne Singer, FEDHASA Cape chairperson. “The country experienced 81 business liquidations in January 2023, 13 of which were from the hospitality sector, this at a time when unemployment is still at almost a third of the population (32.7%),” she continued.
FEDHASA aims to influence policies and decisionmakers by lobbying government to help make South Africa’s hospitality industry more inclusive, while promoting job creation and the development of the sector. The summit focused on championing sustainable and long-term green energy solutions in the form of solar systems, storage batteries and inverters to help mitigate the impact of the energy crisis, while being environmentally friendly. Furthermore, it helped to educate the industry on the alternatives available through presenting case studies and creating a round-table open discussion.
The opening address by Minister Mireille Wenger, the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, highlighted the province’s race to implement the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Initiative starting in 2025. Wenger emphasised that it is the Western Cape government’s single biggest priority as it will enable municipalities, businesses and private households to generate, procure and sell power back to the provincial grid, making the province more energy resilient.
“A key component of the MER Initiative is to enable and unlock municipal independent power producer procurement (IPP) in candidate municipalities (beginning with Stellenbosch, Cape Agulhas and Witzenberg),” said Wenger.
FEDHASA committed that this would be the first of many such energy summits. After a constructive day, Singer said in closing: “FEDHASA aims to help future-proof businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry, while supporting livelihoods by creating a unified platform for discourse and actionable results. This summit aimed to foster collaboration, offer practical advice and assistance – financial and otherwise – to help the industry navigate the energy crisis, particularly as the tourism sector has the potential to be South Africa’s economic lifeline.”