Knox Msebenzi, independent energy expert, was interviewed at African Utility Week 2018 and provided insights into the vital role of governance in Eskom's future and explored the possibility of un-bundling.
According to Msebenzi, a conversation needs to take place within the next five to 10 years regarding new energy policy. The process of revising policy must be led from the top down and stakeholders must be honest and transparent when providing opinions and recommendations. All stakeholders must be involved in amending policy, government, communities, the economically advantaged and disadvantaged. Inclusivity is the only way to ensure policy truly meets the needs of the people.
We can't have a situation where only a few interested groups dictate the future policy of Eskom, especially if those individuals are acting out of self-interest.
What is paramount in terms of Eskom's restructuring is that it takes into account national objectives and the interests of a variety of groups. Energy is vital to the successful development of the country, in other words its' too important to leave in the hands of only a few investors. Government must assume the role of leader, to avoid investors making all the decision, driven purely by financial gain.
With regards to un-bundling, it must considered in terms of the developmental aspects of the country. Understanding the future of un-bundling must be done in the context of the economic objectives and underlying plans for South Africa.
There is a context to everything. The un-bundling of Eskom has to address certain objectives and provide specific solutions and not merely adopted because it is the fashionable thing to do.
Un-bundling will only multiply governance issues and pitfalls rather than solve them. "It's not a panacea of problem solving" says Knox. It must be done for a reason, executed in a responsible way, where everyone is involved. Participation in that debate is paramount.