Eskom unbundling
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Surely the announcement of Eskom’s Chief Reorganisation Officer (CRO) should not be through rumour and speculation.


Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/04/25– subscribe today

The task of heading up the unbundling of the Eskom process is mammoth and needs a squeaky clean reputation attached to it.

Former ABSA chief executive officer Maria Ramos—also of Transnet infamy—has been ‘named’ by far and wide, ‘news’ which has been denied by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan.

The fact that Ramos’s name—or any name for that matter—is being bandied about in the news and on social media without any official communication suggests that leadership is still at odds with one another.

Apparently, Ramos has been ‘identified’, but there are yet to be discussions on who should hold this position, which is troubling as there is no smoke without fire.

Whoever takes up the position will be under extreme scrutiny – especially as the country goes to the polls in two weeks.

Although Ramos holds an impressive resume and bachelor degrees in economics and commerce, there is a perceived taint to her dealings while at Transnet, selling the V&A Waterfront at less than its value, and admitting to playing a role in the intentional collapse of the rand during 2015.

Unbundling of Eskom was formally brought to the table by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who claimed that splitting South Africa’s power utility into three entities would bring much-needed stability to the country’s energy sector.

The CRO of Eskom will be tasked with overseeing the utility’s finances, contracts and maintenance of facilities along with its monumental split into three units: generation, transmission and distribution.

However, in light of the country’s current energy crisis, Penny Herbst, strategy director at Africa GreenCo, points out that: “It is, therefore, concerning that the unbundling of Eskom is taking precedence in the solutions to address the crisis…”

Penny, who will be speaking at the African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference on 14-16 May in Cape Town, stresses that any new build of any technology will come at an elevated price to that of the current tariff.

The message is clear. Unbundling of Eskom is just the beginning, and the sector must address the policies, funding, and technologies needed alongside this development.