(CNN) — It might be one of the world’s worst polluting energy sources, but coal has allowed South Africa to become the continent’s largest economy, according to the chief executive of the country’s power utility company Eskom.
Speaking to CNN’s Robyn Curnow, Eskom’s Brian Dames said coal has been key to fueling South Africa’s economic growth and improving the lives of many in the country.
“We’ve been very successful in the use of coal in growing one of the largest economies, in bringing electricity to the majority of South Africans — we’re absolutely not defensive about it,” said Dames.
South Africa gets 86% of its energy from coal and, despite the criticism that it is bad for the environment — when burned, coal emits more air pollution and greenhouse gases than other major energy sources — Dames argued that South Africa will continue to use the natural resource.
An edited version of the interview follows below.
Why is coal important for South Africa? Click here to read the full interview