17 May 2017

Africa: Eskom Open to Doing More Business With Africa

Pretoria — Eskom is open to doing more business with the African continent, the utility said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the annual African Utility Week that kicked off in Cape Town, Eskom Chairman Dr Baldwin Ngubane said that over the last 18 months, the power utility has managed to turn its business around to a point where today it has surplus electricity supply.

This, he said, serves as an indication that Eskom's five-year design-to-cost (DTC) strategy to achieve financial and operational sustainability continues to bear fruit.

"This means that South Africa has a new commodity on offer ‒ energy security, and we are also saying that Eskom is open to do more business in Africa," said Ngubane.

He added that the utility is open to doing business with large and small energy-intensive businesses, be it other African utilities, mining, manufacturing or new business development.

Dr Ngubane said Africa's energy industry, ought to consider what the fourth industrial revolution means for it as a continent and how it can leapfrog this wave of change to the benefit of individual economies.

He said that it was now time to invest in the region and secure gains as the market expands.

"Leveraging local as well as international investors through mutually beneficial returns should be explored. Such developments will have implications for the Growth Strategy; Integrated African Strategy; partnerships with local investors and future sales," said Dr Ngubane.

He said while there was a need to improve infrastructure, education and leadership models in Africa, it was clear that innovation in Africa was critical and that institutional reform was needed to foster innovation.

"For me, it is important that the energy industry in Africa explores how new ideas can be borne through collaborative networks of research institutions that bring business, utilities, and countries together. In this way, we can define a research agenda to address our specific industry needs, to build infrastructure, local skills and capability, and to develop appropriate intellectual property," said Ngubane.

He said that the fourth industrial revolution has the potential of providing Africans with an opportunity to discover new solutions that could revolutionise the energy industry and leverage advanced technology solutions for a reliable and sustainable power grid.

Ngubane said that the developmental needs of the continent are vast.

"As leaders and players in the energy space we need to recognise that energy supply must contribute to more than just enabling economic growth through abundant energy supply. Energy supply must be leveraged to maximize all aspects of sustainable development," said Ngubane.

Around 7 000 delegates are attending the 17th annual conference that kicked off on Tuesday. The conference that is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre will conclude on Thursday.

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