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DEATH SPIRAL

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd March 2019 The combination of higher electricity tariffs and the fall in solar photovoltaic costs is making it increasingly feasible for companies and high-income households to invest in self-generation to reduce reliance on Eskom or, in some extreme cases, to defect from the grid entirely. In a context of... 

DEATH SPIRAL

ROAD TO HELL

By: Darlene Creamer     15th March 2019 The road to South Africa’s construction industry hell in has been paved by the proverbial good intentions. Prior to the global financial crisis there was much optimism about the role infrastructure could play in raising growth and spurring development. In the immediate aftermath, infrastructure... 

ROAD TO HELL

HAZARDOUS & FAKE

By: Darlene Creamer     8th March 2019 The argument that ‘expensive’ independent power producers (IPPs) pose a financial risk to Eskom may be untrue and misleading. It has, nevertheless, gained significant traction and prominence on various social media platforms in recent months. It is also fair to say that the narrative has become... 

HAZARDOUS & FAKE

PLAYER AND REFEREE

By: Darlene Creamer     1st March 2019 African Rainbow Energy & Power (AREP) chairperson Patrice Motsepe has acknowledged that his company has a serious perception problem – one that will persist for as long as his brothers-in-law, Cyril Ramaphosa and Jeff Radebe, occupied the positions of President and Energy Minister respectively.... 

PLAYER AND REFEREE

POWER SHOWDOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd February 2019 Government has promised to consult meaningfully with labour over a plan to split Eskom into three independent businesses of generation, transmission and distribution. The unbundling is important for creating transparency, but will not succeed without buy-in from labour. President Cyril Ramaphosa... 

POWER SHOWDOWN

PULLING THE PLUG

By: Darlene Creamer     15th February 2019 Nedbank has confirmed that it will no longer participate in the funding of two coal-fired power stations to be built by independent power producers. Other domestic and local banks are more reticent in showing their hands, but are under increasing pressure not to support more domestic coal... 

PULLING THE PLUG

FAILING BIG

By: Darlene Creamer     8th February 2019 Various politicians and commentators have expressed the sentiment that Eskom is too big to fail. But failing it is. Without decisive action, the electricity utility poses a real threat to South Africa’s still fragile economic recovery. 

FAILING BIG

DIFFICULT START

By: Darlene Creamer     1st February 2019 Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi’s sordid testimony before the Zondo Commission was more than enough to wipe the gloss off the first month of 2019. Sadly, it was no the only disheartening event of January. Besides the unacceptable segregation of learners at a North West primary school,... 

DIFFICULT START

BURNING ISSUE

By: Darlene Creamer     25th January 2019 Youth unemployment is emerging as biggest threat to the future stability of South Africa. For many aged between 15 and 34 the prospect of securing permanent employment is dim and getting dimmer. Our young citizens are not only being let down by an economy that is shedding jobs consistently, but... 

BURNING ISSUE

ELECTION WAVE

By: Darlene Creamer     18th January 2019 Most South African business people will not look back on 2018 with any great fondness. It proved to be yet another difficult year, with the economy dipping back into recession and with the political climate remaining volatile and, at times, hostile. Many of us will be feeling somewhat... 

ELECTION WAVE

NO ESCAPING 2018

By: Darlene Creamer     14th December 2018 he year stated well enough. Hope soared after Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as the new leader of the African National Congress, which resulted in Jacob Zuma’s long-overdue resignation. Those expectations were soon proved unrealistic, however. As 2018 unfolded, it became clear that the damage... 

NO ESCAPING 2018

RED ALERT

By: Darlene Creamer     7th December 2018 The attacks by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on individual journalists, as well as media organisations, have once again highlighted the party’s disdain for the Constitution and the rights enshrined therein. The outrageous utterances are not only dangerous for safety of journalists, but also... 

RED ALERT

POWER SCROOGE

By: Darlene Creamer     30th November 2018 The threat of load-shedding will hover like a fabled Dickensian ghost over the December holiday period and into the New Year. State-owned electricity utility Eskom has also warned that the risk of rotational cuts will rise further should there be persistent rain in the Mpumalanga region, where... 

POWER SCROOGE

RUSSIA-SIZED HOLE

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd November 2018 he International Energy Agency is cautioning of damaging price spikes in the 2020s if the current weak investment in new oil supply is left unchecked. The agency states that the average level of new conventional crude oil project approvals over the last three years is only half the amount... 

RUSSIA-SIZED HOLE

WORSENING MAELSTROM

By: Darlene Creamer     16th November 2018 Concern is growing again about the position of many of South Africa’s State-owned companies. Corruption and maladministration are important causes for their current distress. However, the sustainability of many of these enterprises is also threatened by their business models, which, in many... 

WORSENING MAELSTROM

BREWING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     9th November 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent Investment Conference was noteworthy not for the R290-billion in investments unveiled, many of which having already been in the pipeline, but for the atmosphere of renewed hope that surrounded the gathering. The event brimmed to overflowing with high-level... 

BREWING CONFIDENCE

HERE WE GO AGAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd November 2018 South Africans would have experienced a collective sense of déjà vu when Eskom confirmed that it is applying for hikes of 15% a year for the coming three-year tariff period, over-and above what it has already been granted through Regulatory Clearing Account applications. This pattern has been... 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

WOOING INVESTORS

By: Darlene Creamer     26th October 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa has rightly concluded that South Africa will not be able to extract itself from its current low-growth trap in the absence of far higher levels of investment. He has, thus, set a goal of attracting $100-billion-worth of domestic and foreign investment over the coming... 

WOOING INVESTORS

THE RIGHT ROAD

By: Darlene Creamer     19th October 2018 South Africa’s super confident new Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, is unlikely to be intimidated by the prospect of having to present a Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement less than a month into the job. Nevertheless, he will be expected to demonstrate clearly how he plans to remain on the road... 

THE RIGHT ROAD

UPWARD PRESSURE

By: Darlene Creamer     12th October 2018 South Africans have been forced to endure, and absorb, some devastating fuel-price news since the start of 2018. And the bad news could keep flowing. This was the unhappy message contained in statement released by the South African Petroleum Industry Association following the Department of... 

UPWARD PRESSURE

POIGNANT REMINDER

By: Darlene Creamer     5th October 2018 It was more than ironic that the United Nations (UN) unveiled a new statue of Nelson Mandela at its New York headquarters ahead of a General Assembly at which US President Donald Trump urged world leaders to “reject globalism”. Mandela, by contrast, valued both international solidarity and the UN... 

POIGNANT REMINDER

SERIOUS SHORTFALL

By: Darlene Creamer     28th September 2018 Electricity utility Eskom has made it clear that it is indeed having problems in addressing the coal-stock shortages at some power stations. It attributed the problem partly to the fact that Gupta-family’s Tegeta has entered business rescue. However, it also reflects some bad decisions regarding... 

SERIOUS SHORTFALL

UNENVIABLE POSITION

By: Darlene Creamer     21st September 2018 While news of yet another recession is not altogether surprising, it is nevertheless depressing and confidence sapping. Equally discouraging is the state of the discourse within the African National Congress about how best to navigate the economy out of its low-growth trap. At best the ideas lack... 

UNENVIABLE POSITION

DREAM DEFERRED

By: Darlene Creamer     14th September 2018 A sense of gloom descended across South Africa last week, when it was confirmed that the country had slumped into recession. Immediately questions were asked about whether President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘New Dawn’ was actually a ‘false dawn’. What’s clear is that the many governance-induced failings... 

RAISING RENEWABLES

By: Darlene Creamer     7th September 2018 Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has confirmed that the least-cost pathway for new generation in South Africa is a mix of wind, solar and gas. The draft Integrated Resource Plan 2018 makes the same point, but has included five policy adjustments to cater for two coal private coal projects that have... 

RAISING RENEWABLES

CAUTIONARY COLLAPSE

By: Darlene Creamer     31st August 2018 For years now, South African engineers have been warning of mounting infrastructure maintenance backlogs. However, it remains far from clear as to whether the country has any long-term strategy for managing its critical infrastructure? Following the horrific collapse of the motorway bridge in... 

CAUTIONARY COLLAPSE

SHIFTING DECKCHAIRS

By: Darlene Creamer     24th August 2018 Recent power-cut-prone wage negotiations at Eskom were akin to watching the deckchairs being moved on the Titanic before the liner hit its fatal iceberg. It is now broadly accepted that the business is not sustainable in its current form. Yet the negotiations had all the hallmarks of ‘business as... 

SHIFTING DECKCHAIRS

UNHAPPY SEQUEL

By: Darlene Creamer     17th August 2018 Expectations ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 30 election were somewhat elevated by the absence of Robert Mugabe from the ballot. However, events soon took on a very familiar, and unhappy, tone, with strong indications of vote rigging and with protests being violently supressed. Nevertheless, the... 

UNHAPPY SEQUEL

OPEN VERSUS CLOSED

By: Darlene Creamer     10th August 2018 A high degree of cynicism arose following the announcement of new Chinese investments into South Africa worth some $14.7-billion. However, the investment forms only part of a broader charm offensive by China, which senses an opportunity to exploit the gap being created by the isolationist... 

OPEN VERSUS CLOSED

HARD TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd August 2018 South Africa’s construction industry has come under intense pressure in recent years. The industry’s reputation suffered severely in the wake of the collusion cases. However, a potentially fatal blow has come in the form of a collapse in demand, precipitated by the politically induced slowdown of... 

HARD TIMES

SHANK SHOTS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th July 2018 During an interview at the Trump Turnberry golf course, in Scotland, US President Donald Trump described the European Union (EU) as a “foe”. The comment promoted European council president Donald Tusk to Tweet: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake... 

SHANK SHOTS

HEAVEN SENT

By: Darlene Creamer     20th July 2018 Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, whose centenaries we celebrate this month and year, could signal to us how best to tackle some of the big issues of our time. In the absence of any heaven-sent Tweets, it is surely up to all South Africans, especially our political... 

HEAVEN SENT

PRICE HEIST

By: Darlene Creamer     13th July 2018 Temperatures are rising again around the upward trajectory of fuel prices in South Africa. The taxes and levies embedded into the prices have emerged as the main source of irritation. However, in light of South Africa’s revenue-collection problems, there is arguably no realistic chance of these... 

PRICE HEIST

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     6th July 2018 US President Donald Trump did the unthinkable last month by imposing trade restrictions on his closest allies on the basis that their exports posed a threat to America’s national security. The move triggered retaliatory action, along with outrage. In the meanwhile, the main target of Trump’s... 

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

WRONG TARGET

By: Darlene Creamer     29th June 2018 Without question, Eskom’s new management severely misread the labour relations situation at the utility. As a result, they definitely provided the triggering for the aggressive industrial action that followed. Ironically, though, the workers targeted the wrong people – individuals who are... 

WRONG TARGET

RECAPTURING RUNAWAYS

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd June 2018 Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has made it his mission to ‘recapture’ those State-owned companies that were, by all accounts, left to run amuck during the so-called ‘State capture’ era. Given the financial mess many of these companies are in, it’s far from certain whether government... 

RECAPTURING RUNAWAYS

SOLAR BLOOM

By: Darlene Creamer     15th June 2018 Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology was once again the star renewable-energy performer in 2017. Newly installed capacity increased by about 33%, or around 98 GW, over the record-setting additions of 2016. The ‘Renewables 2018 Global Status Report’, published last week by REN21, estimates that more... 

SOLAR BLOOM

NEW SCIENCE DAWN

By: Darlene Creamer     8th June 2018 The recent official launch of the MeerLICHT telescope is arguably an ideal scientific accompaniment to South Africa’s political ‘New Dawn’. Likewise, the Sutherland-based instrument is the perfect optical accompaniment to the MeerKAT radio telescope. In other words, it will be the ‘eyes’ to the... 

NEW SCIENCE DAWN
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