Energy

South Africa issues new licenses amid power cut crisis

South Africa’s energy regulator approved three licenses to operate electricity distribution facilities as the nation endures almost daily power cuts.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa granted distribution licenses to the Klipfontein, Leliehoek and Sonoblomo solar facilities, all of which are in Dealesville in the Free State province, it said in an emailed statement Monday. 

All three received generation licenses in March 2022 and submitted their distribution permit applications in November last year. 

Years of blackouts have throttled the South African economy as state-owned utility Eskom — which has held a near-monopoly over electricity provision since it started a century ago — has struggled under industrial sabotage, graft and coal mafias, raising the cost of doing business in the country.

The government announced plans in 2019 to break up Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units, a move it says will make the various components easier to manage. 

The transmission unit will be the first to be spun off, but consent from lenders is still needed, and a separate board has to be appointed.

The establishment of the business is seen as key to opening up the electricity market more widely to private producers and trading. 

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