The South African government will make an extra R59 billion available to state-owned power utility Eskom over the next two years so it can meet its obligations.
Reuters reports that this bailout is outlined in a special appropriation bill set to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday (23 July).
The cash injection, sourced from the government’s National Revenue Fund, will provide R26 billion for the 2019/20 financial year and R33 billion for 2020/21.
At the start of July, the World Bank said it was not ‘fazed’ about the possibility of Eskom going under, as it believed that the power utility was too important to the South African government.
The Washington-based lender agreed to lend Eskom $4 billion almost a decade ago to boost its generation capacity and avoid a repetition of rolling blackouts.
Mismanagement and construction cost overruns have seen the state of the utility’s finances going from bad to worse since then, forcing the government to bail it out.
While the bailout will provide welcome relief, Eskom is still looking for a leader two months after CEO Phakamani Hadebe announced he’d vacate the post.
On Monday, it posted an advertisement for what some have called the ‘most challenging CEO job in South Africa’.
The role entails overseeing a company that supplies about 95% of the nation’s electricity, has more than 47,600 employees and revenue of R190 billion ($13.6 billion) yet isn’t selling enough power to cover its costs.
The new CEO is required to have experience overseeing “significant change in a complex organisation with at least 20,000 employees and an annual turnover in excess of R30 billion,”
Other requirements include a university degree, ideally at a post-graduate level, 20 years work experience and strong commercial acumen, while experience and expertise in the engineering, construction and energy fields will be an advantage. Applications close on 2 August.