Cape Town – There’s a feeling of cautious optimism surrounding the future of South Africa’s electricity and energy sector after last week’s series of critical announcements, energy expert Chris Yelland said on Monday.
“I’m getting a new feeling of optimism and confidence coming out of the Department of Energy, the Department of Public Enterprises and indeed Eskom, what with the appointment of Brian Molefe [as acting CEO] late last week,” the MD of EE Publishers told Fin24.
“[The announcement] added a new feeling of confidence,” he said. “[Molefe is] a person who comes with significant background [in] large organisations… and he seems to have the confidence of the business community and of the public sector, [so] he may be the person to do a turnaround at Eskom.”
Focus on fixing systematic issues
However, he cautioned that one man alone could not fix Eskom. “This is not a one-man game and it’s not about individual personalities,” he said.
“Every problem and issue that arises needs to be looked at systematically and a systematic solution found to the problem.
“There is a pretty good team at Eskom, but it needs leadership,” he said. “It also needs the support of government and not the interference of government.
“Up until now, people like [ex-CEO of Eskom] Brian Dames and subsequent CEOs and [suspended Eskom CEO Tshediso] Matona were under a lot of pressure from government in one way or another.
“I certainly hope that Mr Molefe will be left alone to get on with the job just as apparently the CEO of Telkom has been given that space to get on with the business and not be conflicted with a whole lot of political interference.”
Improved picture at Eskom
Yelland said we’re seeing an improved picture. “A picture where Eskom is being left to concentrate on Medupi, Kusile, Ingula – that’s the existing new build – as well as improving the performance of its existing fleet of power stations in terms of getting rid of this maintenance backlog, getting the energy availability back to where it should be.
“I’m hoping this is the result of really a lot of hard work at the War Room by Deputy President [Cyril] Ramaphosa [and] by his team of advisers.
“It’s slowly starting to bear fruit.
“Eskom is being left to continue with its new build, while the private sector has been called upon in the short and medium term to deliver the new generation capacity.”
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