Eskom’s performance has deteriorated significantly after former CEO Andre de Ruyter’s departure and the appointment of Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
On 22 February, Eskom announced that De Ruyter had left the power utility with immediate effect following a special board meeting.
The announcement followed an explosive interview in which De Ruyter exposed widespread crime and corruption at Eskom.
He said there is knowledge and support of corruption at the highest levels of the ruling party and the government.
Soon afterwards, on 6 March 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Kgosientsho Ramokgopa as the new Minister in the Presidency for Electricity.
Ramaphosa said Ramokgopa’s primary goal will be to drive the government’s programme to significantly reduce the “severity and frequency of load shedding as a matter of urgency”.
The new electricity minister also had to expedite the government’s work to ensure the full implementation of the Energy Action Plan.
In May, Ramaphosa promised that the end of load-shedding “should be in sight soon”, with its severity reducing in the short term.
In August, he doubled down on his promise, saying the government is doing great work to fix Eskom and the energy crisis and that load-shedding will end by 2024.
It has been six months since Ramokgopa’s appointment and De Ruyter’s departure, making it a suitable period to assess the progress.
There are three core measurements from the data which Eskom provides to assess its performance – the system outlook, load-shedding, and the energy availability factor.
These factors all declined since De Ruyter left the power utility and Ramokgopa was appointed.
It should be noted that Ramokgopa inherited a poorly functioning Eskom, which will take a long time to fix.
The decline in these factors started in 2019 and continued during De Ruyter’s tenure as Eskom chief executive.
However, it shows that Ramokgopa has been unable to stem the decline in Eskom’s performance, which was what Ramaphosa promised when he appointed the new electricity minister.
Last week, Eskom’s system status report warned of severe electricity generation shortages for the next year – the worst outlook it has ever produced.
Eskom’s 2023 Week 36 system status report’s 52-week outlook forecasts that electricity demand will be much higher than available generating capacity for every week of the year.
It is the first time that Eskom’s planned risk level and likely risk scenario are all red. It is essentially a warning of severe load-shedding for at least the next year.
The image below shows how the 52-week outlook changed over the last six months.
A moving load-shedding stage average revealed that the year-on-year load-shedding severity has increased since De Ruyter left and Ramokgopa was appointed as electricity minister.
The average year-on-year load-shedding stage increased from 1.94 in 2022 to 2.64 in 2023 under Ramokgopa’s leadership.
Another way to look at it is that South Africa did not have a single day without load-shedding from April 2023.
The image below, courtesy of The Outlier and Eskom se Push, shows the increased load-shedding in 2023.
Energy availability factor
The energy availability factor (EAF) shows the percentage of time the power station was available for use when it was needed. It is a core measure of performance for any power utility.
Eskom’s EAF has experienced a noticeable deterioration since Ramokgopa was appointed as minister. It declined from 60% in 2022 to 55% in 2023 under Ramokgopa.