Energy minister calls for soccer world cup spirit to save Eskom

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says that the ‘magnificent spirit of 2010’, which made South Africa succeed in the face of many influential global nay-sayers, can help energy utility, Eskom, overcome its current crisis.

Minister Brown was speaking at a briefing to announce Eskom’s interim financial results  on Tuesday (25 November).

Eskom saw its profit drop to R9.3 billion for the six months ended September 2014, down 24% from R12.24 billion before.

The group increased revenue to R81.9 billion, from R77.7 billion in 2013.

“Eskom finds itself in the most challenging position in memory as a company,” CEO Tshediso Matona said, as reported by Bloomberg.

Financial performance has been “systematically deteriorating,” he said.

“Although it is very difficult on occasions like these – and at a time like this in Eskom’s history – to avoid being entirely predictable in what one says, I am going to try to do so,” minister Brown said.

She noted that in September, Cabinet approved a package of support measures to set Eskom on the path to financial sustainability.

“It is multifaceted and complex and we will have to climb and move mountains to make it work… but I believe it is the sea change that we have all been looking for.

“Its scale and its breadth are a serious match for the challenges which it sets out to overcome,” Brown said.

“For the first time in a while, those with a nuanced understanding of the electricity supply industry are saying that we have a chance of turning this super-tanker around,” the minister said.

“That gives me great comfort that this is the beginning of the turnaround … assuming, of course, that we are good at climbing and moving those mountains.”

Brown said that a second major challenge faced by the group is halting and reversing the decline in its generation capacity.

The group declared a power emergency again on the weekend, having begun a series of load-shedding on Friday.

Brown said she was allowed a glimpse of an early draft plan to halt and reverse the decline on Monday, after an Eskom leadership and the leading global expert on the subject walked her through the very latest analysis of the road ahead.

The minister said she was filled with optimism, particularly after seeing the morale and ‘magnificent spirit’ of the staff of Majuba following a visit to the power station in the aftermath of the damage.

Earlier this month a coal storage silo at the power station in Mpumalanga collapsed, resulting in widespread power cuts.

Brown said she had left Majuba with pride, “and the knowledge that we have a dedicated workforce which is committed to go the extra mile in the interest of the country”.

“I believe that spirit can lives in all those in Eskom and beyond who will be called upon to make this extraordinary effort we need over the next three to four years,” the minister said.

Brown also pointed to “the magnificent spirit of 2010 which made us as a nation succeed in the face of many influential global nay-sayers”.

“It has become clear to me that we have to organise the country to attack these problems in the same way.

“As in 2010, failure is not an option,” she said.

More on Eskom

Eskom’s interim profits plunge

Stop Eskom “hysteria” and work with government: minister

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Energy minister calls for soccer world cup spirit to save Eskom