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06 March 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Stephen Collett
Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank
Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, presented a public lecture at the UFS on 4 March 2020.

With a 7% fiscal deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projected by the National Treasury for the 2020/21 financial year, it would not take long to arrive at a dangerous level of debt at the rate that South Africa is borrowing. Although the South African Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, does not consider a debt to GDP rate of 60% a disaster, he did express his concern regarding the country’s fiscal deficits being over 6% of the GDP.

Governor Kganyago presented a public lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 4 March 2020, focusing on how we should use macro-economic policy and its role in our economic growth problem.

Unsustainable policies 
South Africa’s fiscal situation is not about tight monetary policy. According to the Governor: “Weak growth is endogenous in our fiscal problems. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and hope that growth will recover and save us. Growth is low, in large part, because of unsustainable policy.”

Avoiding an impending crisis
To address the problem, as a policymaker with more than 20 years’ experience, the Governor suggested that the recommendations made by Minister Tito Mboweni be taken into consideration. “The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, is a man who says things that are true even when they are unpopular. His message is that we have to reduce spending and he is right to put this at the centre of our macro-economic debate,” said Governor Kganyago.

The state needs a radical economic turnaround strategy which is able to diminish the risk of losing market access and being forced to ask the International Monetary Fund for help. Governor Kganyago is positive that such a reformative tactic would go beyond monetary policy and ensure that the interest bill ceases to claim more of South Africa’s scarce resources. 

News Archive

Fracking in the Karoo has advantages and disadvantages
2012-05-25

 

Dr Danie Vermeulen
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
25 May 2012

Fracking for shale gas in the Karoo was laid bare during a public lecture by Dr Danie Vermeulen, Director of the Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS). He shared facts, figures and research with his audience. No “yes” or “no” vote was cast. The audience was left to decide for itself.

The exploitation of shale gas in the pristine Karoo has probably been one of the most debated issues in South Africa since 2011.
 
Dr Vermeulen’s lecture, “The shale gas story in the Karoo: both sides of the coin”, was the first in a series presented by the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science under the theme “Sustainability”. Dr Vermeulen is a trained geo-hydrologist and geologist. He has been involved in fracking in South Africa since the debate started. He went on a study tour to the USA in 2011 to learn more about fracking and he visited the USA to further his investigation in May 2012.
 
Some of the information he shared, includes:

- It is estimated that South Africa has the fifth-largest shale-gas reserves in the world, following on China, the USA, Argentina and Mexico.
- Flow-back water is stored in sealed tanks and not in flow-back dams.
- Fracturing will not contaminate the water in an area, as the drilling of the wells will go far deeper than the groundwater aquifers. Every well has four steel casings – one within the other – with the gaps between them sealed with cement.
- More than a million hydraulic fracturing simulations took place in the USA without compromising fresh groundwater. The surface activities can cause problems because that is where man-made and managerial operations could cause pollution.
- Water use for shale-gas exploration is lower than for other kinds of energy, but the fact that the Karoo is an arid region makes the use of groundwater a sensitive issue. Dr Vermeulen highlighted this aspect as his major concern regarding shale-gas exploration.
- The cost to develop is a quarter of the cost for an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Dolerite intrusions in the Karoo are an unresearched concern. Dolerite is unique to the South African situation. Dolerite intrusion temperatures exceed 900 °C.

He also addressed the shale-gas footprint, well decommissioning and site reclamation, radio activity in the shale and the low possibility of seismic events.
 
Dr Vermeulen said South Africa is a net importer of energy. About 90% of its power supply is coal-based. For continued economic growth, South Africa needs a stable energy supply. It is also forecast that energy demand in South Africa is growing faster than the average global demand.
 
Unknowns to be addressed in research and exploration are the gas reserves and gas needs of South Africa. Do we have enough water? What will be the visual and social impact? Who must do the exploration?
 
“Only exploration will give us these answers,” Dr Vermeulen said.

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