Util­ity’s task team loses sec­ond mem­ber

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Steyn Min­ing & En­ergy Writer [email protected]­nesslive.co.za

The task team set up by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to ad­vise the gov­ern­ment on how to save the cri­sis-hit Eskom has lost an­other mem­ber. Sy Gour­rah, GM of Ac­tom Power Sys­tems, con­firmed her res­ig­na­tion from the sus­tain­abil­ity task team to Busi­ness Day on Thurs­day.

The task team set up by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to ad­vise the gov­ern­ment on how to save the cri­sis-hit Eskom has lost an­other mem­ber.

Sy Gour­rah, GM of Ac­tom Power Sys­tems, con­firmed her res­ig­na­tion from the sus­tain­abil­ity task team to Busi­ness Day on Thurs­day.

“Once I saw the scope of the work, I had to re­sign,” she said, not­ing that Eskom is one of Ac­tom’s big­gest clients.

Gour­rah said she had re­signed in De­cem­ber.

News of Gour­rah’s res­ig­na­tion comes after Brian Dames’s exit from the task team, which was ap­pointed by Ramaphosa in mid-De­cem­ber.

Just days after his ap­point­ment Dames, a for­mer Eskom CEO and head of Pa­trice Mot­sepe’s African Rain­bow En­ergy and Power, re­signed from the task team over a “per­ceived” con­flict of in­ter­est.

The task team is down to six mem­bers from eight: An­ton Eber­hard, Tsakani Mthombeni, Grové Steyn, Frans Baleni, Mick Davis and Bu­sisiwe Vi­lakazi.

KEY RISKS

The team will as­sist in fix­ing Eskom, which is in a dis­mal state fi­nan­cially and op­er­a­tionally. The gov­ern­ment is strug­gling to come up with a turn­around strat­egy for Eskom, which has debts of more than R400bn, largely guar­an­teed by the state, which have emerged as one of the key risks to the coun­try los­ing its last in­vest­ment-grade rat­ing.

A loss of that rat­ing could po­ten­tially lead to cap­i­tal out­flows, rais­ing bor­row­ing costs across the econ­omy.

The power util­ity, which pro­vides vir­tu­ally all of the coun­try’s en­ergy needs, re­sorted to load-shed­ding in De­cem­ber, threat­en­ing busi­nesses that de­pend on a se­cure and re­li­able sup­ply of elec­tric­ity.

The risk of load-shed­ding is ex­pected to re­turn as SA in­dus­try starts up next week.

The task team has been given a broad man­date, which in­cludes as­sess­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of the Eskom busi­ness model and struc­ture.

It will also re­view a turn­around strat­egy sub­mit­ted by the board, in­clud­ing “key as­sump­tions, im­pact on tar­iffs and in­dus­try, and vi­a­bil­ity of pro­posed so­lu­tions on the fu­ture role of Eskom”, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment by the pres­i­dency in De­cem­ber 2018 an­nounc­ing the team.

The task team is ex­pected to is­sue its re­port be­fore the end of Jan­uary.

Brian Dames

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