South Africa’s energy transition is underway and the country has adopted a just transition framework for its execution. However, the energy transition in South Africa is confronted by a multitude of socioeconomic challenges. This perspective focuses on urgent issues regarding South Africa’s energy transition.

The author argues that South Africa’s energy transition needs a people-centered approach; it must place the needs of all citizens at the forefront and leave no-one behind. The transition must bring to the fore a new economic development pathway that is driven by renewable energy to create new sectors for economic growth, to create decent work, to reduce persisting energy inequalities and to address the ongoing energy crisis. Furthermore, developed economies will be essential in assisting South Africa with a financing deal for its energy transition. It remains to be seen whether the financing deal will indeed be realized. Also, there must be transparency between partners regarding the nature and structure of these deals, and that this finance be channeled to the most vulnerable victims of climate change. South Africa’s energy transition model is the first of its kind globally; the world is watching keenly to see whether the country can succeed. Therefore, the challenge remains for South Africa to ensure that the energy transition addresses the country’s socioeconomic challenges and prioritizes its people.

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