Eskom could have new strategy in place by September, says new CEO

Cape Town – Eskom interim CEO Phakamani Hadebe told Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy on Tuesday morning that he has spoken with Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on plans to steer the power utility back on course, saying a strategy is expected by September.

Hadebe told the committee that Eskom raised R30bn in three weeks, which later grew to R33bn from the market in net terms. This, he said, indicates the funding market is beginning to welcome Eskom back, allowing it to diversify its funding model.

The ailing state-owned entity has long been seen as the single largest risk to South Africa’s struggling economy. Since President Cyril Ramaphosa took over government from former president Jacob Zuma, tackling the health of state firms has been one of the new leader’s priorities.

Hadebe said recent economic changes, evidenced by Moody’s decision last week to upgrade the South African economy’s outlook to stable, showed the international and investor communities are looking at Eskom in a fairer light.

“Eskom now has a R72bn borrowing requirement and the issue of (regulator) Nersa’s tariff proposal has ramifications for this, and whether Eskom is able to operate as a going concern. This is one of the issues we would like to see resolved,” said Hadebe.

He added Gordhan has been briefed by the new leadership of the parastatal. He said the minister and Eskom leadership agreed on non-negotiables, including responsible governance, and that a strategy is expected by September.

“We have already spoken to Gordhan to say there are a number of challenges we have from the previous board, and we agreed on a one-year corporate plan to ensure the sustainability of Eskom and ensure that Eskom does not trade recklessly.

"The minister agreed and by September we will have an integrated strategy to lead the way forward for Eskom,” Hadebe said.

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