South Africa’s cabinet has endorsed an investment plan to help the country transition away from the use of coal, a key step in securing $8.5 billion in climate finance on offer from the world’s richest nations.

The plan envisages the closure and re-purposing of coal-fired power plants owned by Eskom, the state power utility, so that additional renewable energy can be produced. It also covers expanding the transmission grid and fostering the development of electric-vehicle and green hydrogen industries.

The endorsement, announced in a statement on Thursday, indicates that opposition to the deal from some government officials, including Gwede Mantashe, the energy minister, has been overcome.

South Africa depends on coal for more than 80% of its power, and 90,000 people are employed at coal mines.

The so-called Just Energy Transition Partnership, with the US, UK, Germany, France and the European Union, is expected to serve as a prototype for similar deals with coal-dependent developing nations such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

Minister perks

Cabinet has also endorsed the announcement made by The Presidency to withdraw the amendments made to the Guide for Members of the Executive for 2022.

Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Vincent Magwenya, on Monday said the President had withdrawn the amendment to the Ministerial Handbook, pending a review.

The said amendments that were made in April 2022 provided for additional capacity to some of the offices of the Ministers who are responsible for more than one portfolio.

“They also required the State to take over full responsibility for the costs associated with the provision of electricity and water to official residences occupied by members of the executive,” Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said.

The minister said Cabinet noted the concerns raised by the public and resolved to review the Guide for Members of the Executive.

“This process will be handled by a neutral structure, and once completed, the guide will be made public through the Department of Public Service and Administration’s website.”

Magwenya said President Ramaphosa’s withdrawal of the Ministerial Handbook for 2022 would give effect to the 2019 version of the guide, pending a review.

With Bloomberg and SA news

Read: Major headache for South Africa’s $8.5 billion plan to move away from coal: report