Eskom's woes: From winning awards to costing SA economy about R3bn daily

The country is in the throes of another bout of stage 4 load shedding with Eskom citing a myriad of problems.

Eskom's Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africans continue to be left with very little choice but to deal with constant blackouts, many are desperate for solutions.

The country is in the throes of another bout of stage 4 load shedding with Eskom citing a myriad of problems.

But these are not new, and citizens are asking - again - how much longer they have to put up with this.

At the same time, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is expected to brief the country on the power utility’s plans to reduce load shedding.

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When Eskom was crowned Global Power Company of 2002 at the Financial Times Global Energy Awards, not many people would have predicted the downward spiral of rotational blackouts would begin six years later.

Load shedding was first introduced in 2008, startling South Africans who were unfamiliar with this concept. It’s now become a part of their lives and who knows until when?

Despite bold promises like this in 2016: “There will be no more load shedding, in the near future, we will have surplus energy,” said then President Jacob Zuma.

But not much has changed. During that time, President Cyril Ramaphosa was the deputy to his now predecessor Zuma - and was heading up the so-called Eskom war room, which was meant to tackle the power crisis.

Ramaphosa continued to assure South Africans that things would improve and just on Monday, he pleaded for patience.

Business Unity South Africa said government's failure to address the energy shortages had led to the lowest business confidence in 13 years.

BUSA president Bonang Mohale said: “We are suffering, as business, the lowest confidence since the World War 2. There is policy failure, state capture and bad governance.”

STOP LOAD SHEDDING

Business is asking Eskom to stop the erratic blackouts to help ease the pressure off entities that are barely recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

Businesses - particularly those on a lower scale who can’t afford alternative sources of energy - have suffered the most.

Mohale estimates that stage four load shedding - which is now in effect - is costing the economy around R3 billion a day.

“What business is asking for is regulatory certainty and policy stability. When you tell business what your plans are you are honest and up front with them, business can make their own plan.”

Meanwhile - the Black Business Council wants an overhaul of the entire Eskom board as well as public enterprises’ political head Pravin Gordhan.

The council’s president Elias Monage SAID: “Getting people to raise their hand and say, ‘here, I want to run this thing better’. There are many people willing and keen to do that.”

In the last 12 years, Eskom has had 11 acting and permanent CEOs.

The energy crisis is not about to go away anytime soon and South Africans are now more desperate for clear answers, direction and solutions from those in power.

There are now growing calls for the current leadership to go and for the country to speed up the exploration and implementation of alternative sources of energy.