We live in hope: four initiatives under way to restore Eskom to its former glory

14 February 2019 - 13:38 By Odwa Mjo
The government has devised several plans in the past couple of months to help rescue Eskom.
The government has devised several plans in the past couple of months to help rescue Eskom.
Image: Times Media

Several plans have been devised or are in the pipeline to rescue Eskom. The behemoth  that produces 95% of the country's electricity is beset with problems, including debt so huge it cannot even pay the monthly interest and the loss this week of seven generator units. It is also grossly overstaffed yet does not employ people with the skills required to keep the lights on.

It seems helpless, but try we must. Here are four initiatives that allow us the faintest glimmer of hope that the dim and flickering light we see at the end of a long, dark tunnel will soon give way to glorious, life-giving, Eskom-generated light.

Ramaphosa's task team

President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a task team to advise on a turnaround strategy to help Eskom out of its financial woes. 

The eight-member team was cut down to six in January, following the resignation of Sy Gourrah and Brian Dames in December 2018. 

The team comprises Anton Eberhard, Tsakani Mthombeni, Grové Steyn, Frans Baleni, Mick Davis and Busisiwe Vilakazi.

It has also been tasked with assessing the appropriateness of the Eskom business model and structure, and resolving the power utility’s R419bn debt burden 

R15.bn loan facility 

Eskom secured a loan facility of R15bn from a consortium of local and international banks. The power utility said the government-guaranteed facility would partly fund its capital-expenditure programme. 

"The conclusion of the facility will ensure that Eskom’s liquidity requirements for financial year 2018-2019 are timeously fulfilled, which is critical for business operations," the company said.

Splitting Eskom

At the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on February 7, President Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be split into three separate units – generation, distribution and transmission.  

Load-shedding 

TimesLIVE reported that the government is bringing in external engineers to assess the malfunctions at Eskom’s power stations. The experts are also set to conduct a full operations audit to determine where the problems lie at the power stations.

According to public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, the government is calling on Enel, one of the world’s leading energy suppliers, to provide it with external technical assistance. Enel will soon send two or three coal power station engineers to South Africa. 


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