Medupi: How govt's damage control became the poster child of Eskom debt

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Eskom's Medupi power station.
Eskom's Medupi power station.
Getty Images

Eskom on Monday announced that the fourth-largest coal-fired power station in the world, Medupi, had achieved commercial operation.

It's taken 14 years since building activities started in May 2007. The construction of the plant, in Lephalale, Limpopo, was part of Eskom coal construction programme which arguably started later than it should have because government's delayed decision making and planning for additional generating capacity to meet demand.

In 2001, government prevented Eskom from investing in new generation capacity in the hopes of getting more private sector participation in energy generation. But government failed to put in place the required regulation to support private sector participation, as highlighted by authors Lucy Baker and Jon Philips in their 2018 paper, Tensions in the transition: The politics of electricity distribution in South Africa.

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