Red card for Eskom

Fifa prefers ‘more re­li­able’ gen­er­a­tor power

Finweek English Edition - - Openers - SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA sikonathim@fin­

ELEC­TRIC­ITY GEN­ER­A­TOR Eskom has earned it­self a red card from the or­gan­is­ing body even be­fore the first 2010 soc­cer world cup game kicks off next year.

The Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Fifa) has ex­cluded Eskom from its prepa­ra­tion plans af­ter it in­structed the Lo­cal Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee (LOC) to pre­pare gen­er­a­tor power or what it terms ‘tech­ni­cal power’ for match venues dur­ing the World Cup.

That ap­pears to be a vote of no con­fi­dence in Eskom’s abil­ity to keep the lights on dur­ing the soc­cer spec­ta­cle, as the power short­ages early last year and sub­se­quent “load shed­ding” brought eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity to its knees and shut down min­ing com­pa­nies for a week.

Not so, ac­cord­ing to LOC CE Danny Jor­daan.

“It was a re­quire­ment from Fifa that all match venues use tech­ni­cal power,” Jor­daan told Fin­week at the re­cent Tourism Ind­aba in Dur­ban. “It’s not the LOC’s lack of con­fi­dence in Eskom; it has noth­ing to do with Eskom.” Jor­daan said Fifa had also used tech­ni­cal power dur­ing the 2006 event in Ger­many.

Jor­daan’s sen­ti­ments were echoed by Jo­han­nes­burg 2010 Project Of­fi­cer Si­bongile Maz­ibuko: “Fifa (only) works with gen­er­a­tors. Train­ing venues and match sta­di­ums will be run on gen­er­a­tors.”

Whether or not the de­ci­sion to use diesel and gen­er­a­tor power is a sign of Fifa’s con­fi­dence in Eskom’s abil­ity to keep the lights on, a fac­tor that has to be con­sid­ered is the cost of diesel power rel­a­tive to con­ven­tional elec­tric­ity.

South Africa’s elec­tric­ity is still one of the world’s cheapest (when avail­able) while the de­mand for al­ter­na­tive power sources has driven up the price of gen­er­a­tors sig­nif­i­cantly.

A gen­er­a­tor to power up a 55 000sq m of­fice park can cost around R17m.

“The cost has to be bal­anced against the risk of fail­ure,” said Pan African In­vest­ments’ CE Iraj Abe­dian when asked for an opin­ion on diesel power. “What would be the cost if the event failed be­cause there’s no power?”

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