Eskom says it does not sponsor the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and will no longer be sending any executives to the meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, later this week.
This follows claims from the Democratic Alliance last week that the cash-strapped power utility was sponsoring the event, while also sending as many as three executives to the 45th WEF meeting, which takes place from 21 to 24 January 2015.
Eskom had previously confirmed that two executives – chairperson Zola Tsotsi and group executive for sustainability Steve Lennon- would be attending Davos this year after CEO, Tshediso Matona pulled out of the event on 9 January.
However, following wide criticism for sending executives to the $20,000 per delegate event at all, the power utility has decided to withdraw from the event completely.
“We have taken note of the public concern and have withdrawn our participation accordingly,” Eskom said in a statement on Monday (19 January).
“Tsotsi and Lennon will therefore not be attending the meeting in Davos.”
“Matona and the rest of the executive team were not going to attend the Davos meeting and as such are on the ground on a daily basis dealing with Eskom’s current situation,” it said.
Speaking to BusinessTech, Eskom stressed to clarify that it “does not sponsor WEF,” as the DA had claimed.
A long history with Davos
Before pulling out of the event, Eskom explained why it saw value in attending the event, which it had been involved with over the decade:
“Eskom has partners across the globe and is funded by local and international institutions. Eskom believes in engaging all its stakeholder regarding its current status.
Over 2500 global leaders (including 1500 global business executives) come to the WEF Annual Meeting to search for solutions, and catalyse year-round action plans to address challenges that as responsible global stakeholders, are critical to their own future.
With this broader context, Eskom officials would participate in working meetings with the energy, finance, African business leaders amongst others, to engage in activities that are relevant to Eskom’s future and its role in providing electricity in South Africa.
According to Eskom, the executives would have worked on building global investor confidence, and would have met with their business partners in the energy industry to expedite solutions to the local build problems.
Eskom said its participants would have brought “unique value” to the meeting, representing the country’s business leadership.
Eskom reported on Thursday last week (15 January), that it needs to raise tariffs in order to assist the company in recovering some of its operating costs.
In a quarterly ‘state of the system’ update at Megawatt Park, in Johannesburg, Eskom chief executive Tshediso Matona said that the company’s operational strain has put stress on its books.