Eskom could have a new board as early as next week – report

Staff Writer25 September 2022


The cabinet is set to meet next week to discuss a new board at the crisis-stricken power utility Eskom, as load shedding continues to worsen, according to the Sunday Times.

Citing several well-placed insiders, the paper reported that the presidency and the public enterprises department had already met about appointing a new board.

A high-ranking government source said: “Cabinet ministers said they must all go; the board and the executive must go. But the meeting adjourned and has not concluded.”

The current eight-member board has been criticised for lacking the technical skills to provide oversight on the technical aspects of the utility’s turnaround plans.

Loadshedding, meanwhile, continues to be implemented at stage 3 on Sunday. Load shedding ran at stage 5 for most of the week – forcing some areas into the dark for in excess of four hours at a time.

Eskom said load shedding is expected to ease next week; however, capacity constraints will persist throughout next week.

“Current indications are that load shedding will be implemented at stage 3 for most of the week. A further update will be published on Sunday afternoon, or as soon as there are any significant changes,” it said.

At last reporting, the group had well over 15,000MW of capacity unavailable due to breakdowns.

Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter, told the Sunday Times he would welcome a stronger board. He said Eskom has asked for some time for new board members as the pressure on the current directors has grown because of a number of resignations.

“I will welcome knowledgeable new appointments.”

The chief executive is also under pressure, with calls for his axing, the Sunday paper said. However, de Ruyter said that Eskom is making inroads in fixing “the mess I inherited”.

He said employees are working up to 18 hours a day to prevent load shedding.

“We have some of the best and most experienced system engineers who are ensuring our network remains stable in spite of the challenges,” De Ruyter told the Sunday Times.

“I would have had peace with the pressure I am under if I deserved it. This is a mess I inherited.”

South Africa will require R500 billion rand in private investment to end power cuts stalling economic growth by the start of 2025, said Peter Attard Montalto, Intellidex’s head of capital markets research.

The money is needed to construct 15 gigawatts of generation capacity and five gigawatts of battery storage, he said, adding that the requirement is unlikely to be met within such a tight time frame.

“Ending load-shedding by end-2024 is possible, but a stretch,” Montalto said in response to questions. It would require that all efforts to end the crisis and introduce energy reforms “would have to go like clockwork,” he said.

The country will need to invest an additional R175 billion rand in expanding its power grid over the next decade, Montalto said in a presentation to the Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission, earlier this week.

Attard Montalto warned that things are likely to get far worse for load shedding before they start getting better, saying the South Africans should expect stage 6 to 8 load shedding between October and November and in February next year.

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