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LEAP OF LOGIC

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd October 2021 While President Cyril Ramaphosa was urging investors to embrace green energy and calling on rich countries to support developed country energy transitions with concessional finance, his Mineral Resources and Energy Minister was jumping to a very different conclusion. Gwede Mantashe said green... 

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REGULATORY RUCTIONS:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th October 2021 The decision of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to reject Eskom’s revenue applications for the three-year period from 2022/23 to 2024/25 has created ructions. The decision is based on the fact that Nersa is reviewing the current methodology, which it says has failed to... 

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NEW BARRIER

By: Darlene Creamer     8th October 2021 South Africans were rightly upset by the opaque, and seemingly non-scientific reasoning, behind the UK government’s recent decision to keep the country on its Covid Red List. The country’s exports could face similar seemingly unfair treatment as the European Union prepares to implement a tariffs... 

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VOTER HESITANCY

By: Darlene Creamer     1st October 2021 Vaccine hesitancy is not the only form of hesitancy troubling South Africans. Many eligible voters are deeply uncertain about how best to exercise their November 1 municipal vote, despite chronic power, water, pothole, and refuse problems, as well as a never-ending stream of corruption scandals.... 

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APP(Y) DAYS

By: Darlene Creamer     24th September 2021 With signs of waning vaccine uptake, South Africa is set to join a growing list of countries that require either digital or physical proof of vaccination before an individual can participate in certain activities. Since August, France has stipulated that a Passe Sanitaire QR-code is required for... 

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VOTING FOR MANDATES

By: Darlene Creamer     17th September 2021 The announcement of South Africa’s municipal election date more or less coincided with Discovery’s announcement that the company intended moving to a mandatory Covid vaccination policy from January 1. The move will not make CEO Adrian Gore popular with everyone, especially in a context of ongoing... 

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FISSI(ON) THE MENU

By: Darlene Creamer     10th September 2021 Moves to open the way for 2 500 MW of new nuclear capacity raises a menu of questions. If new nuclear is affordable, why is there no allocation for it in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)? If it’s designed to replace power from Inga, why is there not a broader IRP overhaul to test the least-cost... 

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GATEWAY OR WALL

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd September 2021 South Africa’s ports have had a torrid two years: operations were hit hard during the early onset of the Covid-19 pandemic; the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng riots rocked the N3 corridor and the Port of Durban; and Transnet was then hit by a debilitating cyber-attack. Even before these events,... 

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NO TIME TO HESITATE

By: Darlene Creamer     27th August 2021 After an excruciatingly slow start and some bad luck, South Africa’s vaccination programme is no longer supply constrained. Demand, however, has become a new concern, with vaccine hesitancy the major cause. This is worrying for several reasons but is especially worrying from an economic... 

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REAL RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     20th August 2021 Yes, supporters of former President Jacob Zuma deliberately planned and executed a strategy to destabilise the country when they initiated attacks on key economic infrastructure following his jailing in Estcourt. The deadly riots that followed, however, were sustained partly by the desperate... 

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HACK WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     13th August 2021 The recent cyber-attack on Transnet, which paralysed operations at the country’s ports only days after deadly rioting did likewise, was yet another warning of just how vulnerable the country’s economic infrastructure is to cyber-crime. All companies, but especially South Africa’s utilities, will... 

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HORRIFYING REFLECTION

By: Darlene Creamer     6th August 2021 The recent insurrection, which triggered widespread and deadly violence and looting, was a test of both South Africa’s world-class Constitution and its maturing democracy. While both passed the test, it nevertheless reflected horribly on the country and its image as a stable and safe investment... 

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BUILDING BACK

By: Darlene Creamer     30th July 2021 The three C’s of ‘conspiracy’, ‘conditions’ and ‘capacity’ combined toxically this month when South Africa witnessed deplorable scenes of deadly violence, theft and destruction. The conspirators had been plotting insurrection ever since Cyril Ramaphosa’s razor-thin 2017 Nasrec victory and were... 

BUILDING BACK

RACE IS ON

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd July 2021 For South Africa to have any chance of extending its 2021 economic rebound into a full-blown multidecade recovery, an Olympian effort has to be made to vaccinate as many people as possible in as fast a time as possible. Much like the Covid-affected Tokyo Olympics, South Africa is in a real race.... 

RACE IS ON

DELTA BLOW

By: Darlene Creamer     16th July 2021 As the Delta variant blows through South Africa and many other countries, the good news is that the vaccines remain effective. The bad news is that South Africa’s slow pace of vaccination has left them unable to provide any meaningful protection against the third wave. Every effort now needs to... 

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DELTA BLOW: As the Delta variant blows through South Africa and many other countries, the good news is that the vaccines remain effective. The bad news is that South Africa’s slow pace of vaccination has left them unable to provide any meaningful protection against the third wave. Every effort now needs to be made to ensure a rapid increase in the pace and scale of the vaccination drive, particularly as the supply constraints ease.

JABS & JOBS

By: Darlene Creamer     9th July 2021 There is little question that the mass Covid vaccination roll-out represents South Africa’s most important economic stimulus programme and will provide the foundation for job-creating investment. After a sluggish start and then some serious early setbacks, the programme is at last picking up... 

JABS & JOBS

TRANSMISSION TRANSITION

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd July 2021 The creation, by year-end, of the Independent Transmission System and Market Operator, or ITSMO, is arguably the most important next reform required to align the electricity supply industry (ESI) with the unfolding energy transition. Without an efficient and, ultimately, fully independent... 

TRANSMISSION TRANSITION

STEADY CLIMB

By: Darlene Creamer     25th June 2021 For years, South Africa has been promising reforms to stimulate growth, investment and jobs. Until this month, however, those pledges have not been translated into action. On June 10, President Cyril Ramaphosa took a big step when he announced a major electricity reform. A day later, Public... 

STEADY CLIMB

MONSTROUS CURVE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th June 2021 South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased to a terrifying 32.6% in the first quarter of 2021, the highest level since the report was introduced 13 years ago. On the expanded definition the picture is far worse, at 43.2%. Frighteningly, only 15-million of South Africa’s 39.5-million... 

MONSTROUS CURVE

MUSCULAR EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     4th June 2021 South Africa’s phased mass vaccination effort is finally under way, with health workers and people over 60 receiving priority under the initial stage of Phase 2. Success in scaling up the campaign so that the majority of the adult population is inoculated before year-end is now critical if a... 

MUSCULAR EFFORT

PRICE GYRATIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     28th May 2021 The iron-ore price has come under the spotlight this month with both sharp daily gains and steep declines recorded. The volatility has led to questions about whether the iron-ore price is responding to super-cycle-type conditions, or whether it is simply riding a speculative roller-coaster. Time... 

PRICE GYRATIONS

WAVE WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     21st May 2021 As South Africa faces a third Covid-19 wave, it’s crucial that we don’t let down our guard, despite the fact that we are all extremely tired of the living under ongoing restrictions. For now, mask wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene remain our best defence ahead of a mass vaccination... 

WAVE WARNING

WEIGHED DOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     14th May 2021 Opposition to the South African government’s awarding of preferred-bidder status to power ships as part of a recent electricity procurement bidding round continues to grow. Besides ongoing questions over whether it is technically, economically and environmentally sensible to be entering into... 

WEIGHED DOWN

OWN GOAL

By: Darlene Creamer     7th May 2021 While football fans, especially in England, were angrily protesting a fatally flawed plan to create a closed-shop super league for a handful of elite European clubs, anger was growing in South Africa over the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), which is... 

OWN GOAL

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

By: Darlene Creamer     30th April 2021 South Africa is big on shiny new things, including mega infrastructure projects. The country is less big, however, when it comes to maintaining that infrastructure across its full life cycle. While the recent fire at Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital put a spotlight on... 

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

HIKES & LEVIES

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd April 2021 The fuel price and power tariff hikes implemented at the start of this month bring back painful memories of surging energy prices ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have also placed the spotlight on the additional taxes and levies that are included in South Africa’s fuel prices, as well as the... 

HIKES & LEVIES

END OF THE BEGINNING

By: Darlene Creamer     16th April 2021 There is no question that South Africa has been sluggish in its preparations for a mass vaccination campaign to combat the Covid-19 virus. Nevertheless, the ‘end of the beginning’ is at last in sight, with the procurement of sufficient doses of both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines to... 

END OF THE BEGINNING

DEBT SHEDDING

By: Darlene Creamer     9th April 2021 The unsustainable nature of Eskom’s debt profile is well known. Less clear, however, is what should be done about it. The State-owned utility has indicated on several occasions that it would be able to wean itself off of ongoing taxpayer support with a debt burden that is half the current level... 

DEBT SHEDDING

ROCK & HARD PLACE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd April 2021 The ‘Rockman’ statue at the entrance to Eskom’s Megawatt Park head office in Johannesburg exemplifies the current difficult reality facing the State-owned utility. While its maintenance efforts are likely to improve the performance of its coal fleet in the short-term, a good portion of that fleet... 

ROCK & HARD PLACE

(LOCK)DOWN MEMORY LANE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th March 2021 “From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home,” President Cyril Ramaphosa declared on March 23 in the first of what subsequently became known as his Covid-19 ‘family meetings’. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that... 

(LOCK)DOWN MEMORY LANE

SPILLING THE TEA

By: Darlene Creamer     19th March 2021 The world was captivated, earlier this month, by Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, during which some piping hot Earl Grey was most definitely spilled. In South Africa, by contrast, the brew being served and spilled during the now regular... 

SPILLING THE TEA

CLIFF-HANGER

By: Darlene Creamer     12th March 2021 The credibility of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s 2021 Budget hangs largely on the outcome of upcoming wage negotiations with public sector unions. There are serious doubts as to whether the proposed freeze on increases will be sustained. With the unions seeking inflation-plus hikes, South... 

CLIFF-HANGER

WATER WORRIES

By: Darlene Creamer     5th March 2021 The South African Human Rights Commission’s scathing findings on Emfuleni’s dismal mismanagement of water infrastructure, which has resulted in serious pollution of the Vaal river, Gauteng's most vital water resource, is sadly not an isolated incident. A benchmarking survey of 144 municipal water... 

WATER WORRIES

HEROIC EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     26th February 2021 Following the AstraZeneca vaccine setback, the arrival of the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week was a significant development. Equally significant was the speed at which the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority moved to approve the vaccine so... 

HEROIC EFFORT: Following the AstraZeneca vaccine setback, the arrival of the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week was a significant development. Equally significant was the speed at which the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority moved to approve the vaccine so that it could be rapidly dispatched to vaccination centres ahead of the start of the first phase of the vaccination campaign, which started on February 17. A heroic effort is now needed to secure far more doses so that all 1.3-million healthcare workers can be vaccinated ahead of the much-feared third wave.
HEROIC EFFORT: Following the AstraZeneca vaccine setback, the arrival of the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week was a significant development. Equally significant was the speed at which the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority moved to approve the vaccine so that it could be rapidly dispatched to vaccination centres ahead of the start of the first phase of the vaccination campaign, which started on February 17. A heroic effort is now needed to secure far more doses so that all 1.3-million healthcare workers can be vaccinated ahead of the much-feared third wave.

PAINFUL JAB

By: Darlene Creamer     19th February 2021 South Africans should probably brace for pain when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his 2021 Budget speech later this month. If he holds to the consolidation path outlined in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, there will be a squeeze from both sides: expenditure cuts and taxes. Some... 

PAINFUL JAB

DAUNTING PROSPECT

By: Darlene Creamer     12th February 2021 South Africans were naturally hoping that 2021 would be better than 2020. Unfortunately, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the obstacles to an economic recovery are even more daunting than initially feared. While the scale of the challenge is already clear for all to see, Finance Minister... 

DAUNTING PROSPECT

INCLEMENT OUTLOOK

By: Darlene Creamer     5th February 2021 Although Cyclone Eloise did not disrupt South Africa’s already load-shedding-prone electricity network as much as initially feared, it nevertheless left serious destruction and death in its wake. It is not the only storm warning facing Southern Africa, however. The region is confronting gale-like... 

INCLEMENT OUTLOOK

AWFUL START

By: Darlene Creamer     29th January 2021 Warnings of a severe Covid-19 second wave could not prevent it from crashing with deadly force onto South Africa in January. The virus spread rapidly partly because of a lack of strict adherence to tiresome, yet crucial, nonpharmaceutical protocols. It was spurred yet further by a new variant,... 

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