Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Eskom Chairman Says Utility’s Improved Performance Isn’t a Fluke

Eskom Chairman Says Utility’s Improved Performance Isn’t a Fluke
Mpho Makwana, chairman of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday, June 9, 2023. Makwana said a change in management structure has helped improve its plant performance, enabling blackouts to be eased, and further gains can be expected.

Mpho Makwana, the chairman of South Africa’s beleaguered state power utility, said a change in management structure has helped improve its plant performance, enabling blackouts to be eased, and further gains can be expected.

Over the past few weeks, the proportion of power Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. can produce relative to its generating capacity has risen to 60.5%, compared with about 56% a year ago, Makwana said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Johannesburg bureau on Friday.

The improvement belied warnings that South Africa’s winter weather could see blackouts exceed previous records of as long as 12 hours a day earlier this year. The power cuts, which began in 2008, have hobbled South Africa’s economy and weakened the rand. The central bank estimates that the outages will shave 2 percentage points off the nation’s growth rate this year.

Record Outages | South Africa's power cuts last year were four times previous record

“The amelioration has not been a fluke,” Makwana said. He attributed part of the gains to the company’s decisions to scrap the post of chief operating officer and give individual plant managers more direct access to senior executives — changes he said had improved morale.

On Friday, Eskom Generation Executive Eric Shunmagum told reporters that a series of winter storms over the past week had helped offshore wind plants boost their output, which also reduced outages.

The improved availability of electricity has also been driven by higher tariffs that have cut demand, improved maintenance at power plants, and increased diesel supply at the open gas cycle turbines that are used for emergency supply during periods of high demand, he said.

Read More on Eskom:

The rand has gained 4.3% against the dollar over the last five days, the third-best performance globally, data compiled by Bloomberg show, in part due to the easing of the power crisis. Still, Eskom’s so-called energy availability factor level remains below the 64% its board had targeted by this juncture and needs to be more sustained.

“We are making headway,” Makwana said. “It’s still early days to have song and dance, but for a full month now we’ve seen this consistent performance.”


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dr Know says:

    We have offshore wind plants? How interesting, I would love to know more. And the availability that has hit 60% from 56% is good news, but temper that with the fact that world class availability is actually 90% + 7%planned + 3%forced.

  • gorgee beattie says:

    Could it be that the criminal element have gone to ground?
    And suddenly there is money for diesel.
    Time will tell

  • Stephanie West says:

    The criminal elements will not simply disappear or roll over because the new Minister of Diesel/Electricity is from the ANC. Our government is still burning our taxes on running their diesel turbines, when the same diesel money could’ve built a station or 3 by now.

    These thieves are primal, and have been allowed to over-eat from the trough of patronage for years. They regard it as a right, not a crime or a privilege. That’s criminal entitlement. And it’s so ingrained in the SA political landscape that the ANC and their primal tribal thinking cannot operate for the country first, or the vulnerable first, only “me first”.

    If you don’t like the words primal or tribal, let me explain: primal is I feed myself, and my right to access privilege, at the cost of a nation. There’s no advanced functioning about that basic way of thinking. Toddlers operate like that too.
    Tribal because as long as each patriarch or chief or minister receives his patronage, he doesn’t care about the needs or future of the rest of his tribe, or the neighbouring tribes. He’s ok, so his tribe should be happy with that.
    The results are clear: our people are in lifelong poverty, dying from malnutrition and our economy has been plunged back into the 2nd Industrial Revolution.

    We need to call out the basic, primal thinking for what it is: selfish, childish and guilty of causing death and hopelessness in the most vulnerable.
    We need genuine honest thinking for ALL, not permanent primal patronage of the few.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    What a load of nonsense, every manager worth their salt knows that it takes many months if not years before a change in management ( and/or strategy ) starts to have an effect on an organisation. This is why CEOs and Board members have lengthy terms in office. As Sir Isaac Newton so sagely noted, the bigger the ship the more effort and time it takes to change its path. This was prior to Newton’s Laws of Motion being decolonised by UCT, the woke bodies at UCT demanded that Newton’s Laws of Motion be scrubbed squeaky clean with DEI so UCT could claim the Laws originally resulted from white supremacy but were now redeemed by virtue of being decolonised. It’s typical of South African SOE executives to spout rubbish about their decaying organisations claiming the groans of their sinking ships are the sounds of progress rather than death rattles caused by the self-same executives’ incompetence, excess and corruption. The level of self-delusion demonstrated by SOE executives in general is mind boggling but that of ESKOM executives is stunning beyond belief.

  • rmrobinson says:

    I am puzzled, how has it helped Eskom to “get rid” of Oberholzer? Was he not asked to stay on in a consulting capacity?

  • Johan Buys says:

    What was the scheduled planned maintenance for 9 June 2023 two years ago and what is it now? Delaying maintenance is a way to improve EAF, but you eventually have to service your car before it breaks down badly.

    Have they redefined what 100% means? For a long time the Medupi and Kusile stations were in the total at their design GW. It is common knowledge that they can never get within 800MW of their design capacity. There are several more stations that were XYZ capacity but will never again get near XYZ So if 100% is now 2000MW less, then the bits that are working are a bigger number.

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Spot on Stephanie

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

[%% img-description %%]

The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0

Join Heidi Swart in conversation with Anton Harber and Marianne Merten as they discuss a concerning push to pass a controversial “Spy Bill” into law by May 2024. Tues 5 Dec at 12pm, live, online and free of charge.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options