Should Eskom Be Making A Profit When It Is Still In Dire Straits?
The utility said it managed to supply power 96 per cent of the time although Brian Molefe, acting CEO of Eskom said balancing supply and demand was a challenge.
Why Eskom won’t become irrelevant
South Africa’s chronic electricity shortages are the “biggest challenge” facing Africa’s most developed economy, cutting 1 percentage point off growth, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, has expressed concerns that Eskom is not generating a big enough profit. On the backdrop of this concern, David Lipschitz, energy analyst from My Power Station, said Eskom is a massive organisation that is investing “hundreds of billions of rands” in its infrastructure programme”.
He offered that, “As such one wouldn’t expect it to make a profit for the first ten to 20, even 25 years. When one invests big amounts of capital, one expects to have positive cash-flow after the first few years but also expects to be making losses for a decade or two.”
According to Lipschitz, the minister’s sentiment on Eskom accumulating a sizeable profit is “not a big deal”. In fact, if Eskom were to rake in huge amounts of profit, it would be because “they are overcharging us, and they are wasting money and not putting in money where it needs to be, “ he said.
So by deduction Lipschitz said what Eskom would be asking is that consumers pre-fund its capital build. “So one would expect that in that pre-funding their cash-flow and capital would be growing very fast in order to fund the outlay as it grows up to R2.3 trillion over the next 20 to 30 years,” explained Lipschitz.
He further made the recommendation that improving Eskom’s infrastructure would require a strong balance sheet and that doesn’t demand immediate huge profits.