A South Africa-focused panel discussion at the Africa Energy Forum, in Mauritius, on Wednesday, concluded that while State-owned Eskom, as a dominant player in South Africa’s energy sector, needed to be restructured, so too did the energy industry as a whole.
Panel moderator and publication house EE investigative editor Chris Yelland stated that Eskom was facing an existential crisis.
“In terms of operational efficiency and management, it needs to adapt, otherwise it is doomed to go extinct. As it stands, it can not carry on like this,” he added.
National Energy Regulator of South Africa chairperson Jacob Modise agreed that Eskom needs major restructuring. “Eskom as a monopoly has made South Africa’s economy suffer. Its uneconomical decisions have affected the whole energy industry.”
Fieldstone Africa MD Ziyaad Sarang pointed out, however, that Eskom has been restructured in the past, but that new plans and ideologies have not materialised. “Politics and infrastructure can not be divorced, and consequently have had conflicts of interest around power plant projects.”
Yelland called on the State, as Eskom’s only shareholder, to realise that the utility needed to be restructured.
Meanwhile, Department of Energy Independent Power Producer Office head Karen Breytenbach highlighted that South Africa’s Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe, has shown commitment towards progressing the country’s diversified energy mix and has a vision for the country going forward.
She believes that South Africa is in a restructuring phase with regards to its energy industry.
“[It seems like] Radebe has gravitas, confidence and knowledge to do what has to be done,” Yelland added.
The DoE plans to put out a tender for a further 1 800 MW of renewables capacity under bid window five of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, in November.