Despite the return of load shedding in recent weeks, and the continued financial strain it is putting on the economy, Eskom says it has made progress in its turnaround strategy in recent months.
In a Daily Maverick webinar on the current crisis at Eskom, says spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha outlined five ‘successes’ that the power utility has said in recent months. These include:
- All repairs of defects at the Ingula pumped-storage power station were completed in March and the facility is now performing at full capacity;
- Work on design defects were completed at three Medupi units and the facility is now performing at full capacity;
- Payment levels for electricity in Soweto doubled to about 25% in March, before the lockdown 4;
- Payment levels by municipalities have increased at a steady 5% a month since the attachment action against the Emfuleni municipality in February 2020 and
- Boards have been appointed for the three new divisions Eskom – generation, transmission, and distribution – and more than 6,000 employees relinked to their operating units from corporate.
1. All repairs of defects at Ingula completed in March – now performing at full capacity
2. Design defects completed at 3 Medupi units – now performing at full capacity https://t.co/kO1tC3oi9P
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) September 23, 2020
Eskom, listed as South Africa’s biggest economic risk by Goldman Sachs, needs taxpayer handouts to pay the interest on its rising R488 billion of largely government-guaranteed debt.
It will report a third consecutive loss this year.
Despite this, chief executive Andre de Ruyter is confident his corporate approach, like a merit-based system for managers and intolerance for theft, are making headway at the power utility.
The aim is to turn the flailing coal-burning giant into a green-power business with a manageable debt load that sustains Africa’s most advanced economy.
De Ruyter told Bloomberg that he will also oversee the main task of splitting Eskom into the three generation, transmission, and distribution units.
“We can’t carry on doing things like we’ve always done,” he said. “You’d have to be oblivious to what’s going on in the economy and the negative impact that load shedding has on the economy.”