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SUPER EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     24th May 2019 Eyebrows were definitely raised when the 2019 Presidential inauguration ceremony was moved from the majestic Union Buildings to the grittier Loftus Versfeld stadium, just down the road. Hopefully the venue choice becomes symbolic of a Presidency, whereby Cyril Ramaphosa simply picks up the... 

SUPER EFFORT

ROLLING UP SLEEVES

By: Darlene Creamer     17th May 2019 Despite the initial optimism associated with the political changes that took place in early 2018, the business community has been reticent to take decisive investment decisions in South Africa until after the elections. With those now finally behind us – along with a public-holiday cycle that... 

ROLLING UP SLEEVES

DATA DISPUTE

By: Darlene Creamer     10th May 2019 For several years many South Africans have expressed – often under the social media banner #DataMustFall – unhappiness with prices being charged for data by the country’s mobile operators. Now the Competition Commission has added its considerable heft to the campaign, after its market inquiry... 

DATA DISPUTE

CLIFF EDGE

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd May 2019 News that Eskom was forced to lean on the National Treasury in April to avert an imminent liquidity crisis, arising from a delay in a loan disbursement from the China Development Bank, had served to underline the precarious state of the group’s finances. The debt-laden State-owned utility is... 

CLIFF EDGE

CULTIVATING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th April 2019 The South African economy has been on a downward spiral for a number of years, undermining many of the dividends that initially flowed from the country’s transition to democracy. This poor performance has many reasons, but there is no question that corruption and poor governance are major... 

CULTIVATING CONFIDENCE

ENERGY RELEASE

By: Darlene Creamer     19th April 2019 The return to a protracted period of load-shedding in March provided an unhappy reminder of South Africa’s energy deficit. It also served to confirm that new generation is needed, and needed immediately, to restore system stability. The quickest way to add new capacity would be through allowing... 

ENERGY RELEASE

DOUBLE SHOCK

By: Darlene Creamer     12th April 2019 All South Africans have been feeling the fuel-price pinch ever since the big surge in pump prices took place on Wednesday last week. By contrast, the 13.8% electricity tariff hike introduced on April 1 has hit only direct Eskom customers. The rest of us will feel its shocking brunt from July,... 

DOUBLE SHOCK

WORRYING DEVELOPMENTS

By: Darlene Creamer     5th April 2019 All South Africans were understandably frustrated and angry when Eskom resumed load-shedding in mid-March. Rotational power cuts have a devastating impact on the psychology of the nation and on investor confidence. Another as disturbing trend – that of construction-site violence – is going almost... 

WORRYING DEVELOPMENTS

ROAD TO RUIN

By: Darlene Creamer     29th March 2019 Iconic South African construction company Group Five filed for business rescue earlier this month and also applied for its shares to be suspended from trade on the JSE, after 45 years of trading. In a statement to shareholders, the board cautioned that there was only a slim chance for any... 

ROAD TO RUIN

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
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