Eskom must tell South Africa the truth 

Despite significant efforts at Eskom to resolve the country’s electricity crisis, South Africa still faces regular power cuts. It raises the question of why the utility has not resolved the problem yet.

This is the view of the University of Johannesburg’s Dr Oscar van Heerden, who told Newzroom Afrika that there seems to be no apparent reason why South Africa is still experiencing load-shedding.

“We’re just getting so many different answers from different people,” he said.

Van Heerden said the Electricity Minister took the correct approach when he was elected by visiting individual power plants, identifying the problem, correcting it, and moving on. 

“And in that incremental way, you are dealing with maintenance, you are dealing with systems issues, and so forth,” he explained.

In addition, in the past year, the country has brought the Kusile Power Station’s reactor on stream, there have been repairs at Koeberg’s reactor one and returned to the gird, and power stations that were previously mothballed have been brought back to the grid. 

The country also spends billions on diesel to power Eskom’s open-cycle gas turbines to keep up with electricity demand.

“And yet the load shedding continues – it is just baffling,” said Van Heerden.

One of the major problems is that Eskom cannot be placed under the correct political leadership, as the utility falls under three ministries – Energy, Electricity, and Public Enterprises.

“As we speak, there are still tensions between the three ministers as to who is in control, who is in charge of the utility,” he said

“That needs to be resolved, so when they say that administrators are the problem and there’s no onus on them to also say we need to also get our house in order, I think something is amiss.”

Van Heerden believes Eskom’s failures present a significant threat to the country’s economy.

“The utility is so big, and the economy is so reliant on Eskom and the provision of energy – not only big industry, the mining houses, the service sector – everyone is dependent on not only an economy that is effective and efficient but on electricity that is uninterrupted.” 

“Without electricity, the economy can collapse,” he warned.

He said when looking at the energy availability factor – the electricity available to be put into the grid – compared to demand, there have been times when the EAF is more than demand, yet the country still has load-shedding.

“Eskom must tell us what is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” he said.


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