This was the theme at a panel discussion held in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Tuesday where key players in the energy industry took part in the debate.
And while it was generally acknowledged that South Africans do have the skill to be leaders in issues that affect South Africa, do we have the artisans, technicians, and engineers to implement the designs of the future?
“I would say yes,” said Dr Steve Lennon of Eskom. “When we started the solar water heating programme, the very early assessments that we did said the programme is not going to work because we have not got enough qualified plumbers and electricians.
“Programmes such as these have to be accompanied by a strong localisation programme to increase skills and we must make sure it is sustainable.”
Kelvin Kemm of Nuclear Africa said that in the nuclear field, South Africa had everything it needed in terms of skills, but was lacking depth.
“We have leading nuclear scientists and engineers, artisans, welders and so on,” said Kemm.
“As far as the localisation programme is concerned, it will only survive if we export to nuclear components around the world, which is quite feasible” he said, speaking in terms of skill sets.
“The idea is not to go for 100% local knowledge, which is as bad as zero knowledge.
“The balance is somewhere in the middle so that we are importing and exporting knowledge, so that people will want to trade with us.
“Clearly we need to develop many more people, but we have the skills here to build on.”