24 January 2008 – Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), along with 44 BUSA member organisations, met with Eskom’s Jacob Maroga earlier this week. The purpose of the meeting was to allow all stakeholders from the business community an opportunity to consult with Eskom regarding the current state of electricity in South Africa.

Jerry Vilakazi, CEO of BUSA.

Jerry Vilakazi,
BUSA CEO

“Representation at this meeting underscores the critical role BUSA plays in unifying the often divergent interest within South African business” said Jerry Vilakazi, BUSA CEO.

Maroga supplied details of the challenges facing Eskom, as well as "broader electricity supply challenges; long term demand forecast; the ESKOM project pipeline; progress on capacity expansions; financial matters; and demand management issues."

The main challenges facing Eskom include:

  • Ensuring continuity of supply – keeping the lights burning 
  • Successful execution of capacity expansion programme
  • Maintaining financial sustainability of Eskom
  • Responding to climate change
  • Successful implementation of Electricity Distribution Industry (EDI) restructuring
  • Building public confidence in Eskom and the system

Discussing causes for the current supply challenges, Mr Maroga sited the following reasons for the situation:

  • Late start of the new build programme
  • Insufficient reserve margin
  • Medium term planning effectiveness
  • Demand growth – 50% increase from 1994 to 2007

BUSA said the level of transparency shown by Eskom in the discussions enabled stakeholders to gain a clear understanding of the problem, and come up with solutions where appropriate and possible.

There was real concern among BUSA members regarding the "certainty and predictability of load shedding,” and attention was drawn to the impact of load shedding on various industries. President of Nafcoc, Ms Mthethwa, highlighted the particular plight of small and medium enterprises, particular the loss of income and the effect on local communities and economies.

Effective and appropriate prioritisation and sequencing frameworks must be strengthened, said BUSA. This would ensure that all stakeholders make targeted interventions, which will have a maximum impact on restoring security of electricity supply.

Alternative sources of electricity and electricity supply were proposed, and BUSA members reaffirmed their commitment to demand management initiatives and energy efficiency promotion and projects. A BUSA technical task team will review a number of proposals received from members and a "broadly mandated proposal to government" is expected. There is also consideration being given to an ‘electricity pact’ with Eskom.

"It is the view of BUSA that the current electricity challenges faced by the country demand that all stakeholders play their part to ensure that it does not result in economic paralysis. For its part, BUSA will work with Eskom, government and other stakeholders to arrest this very critical challenge" a statement from BUSA concluded.