Security of energy supply must be high on the agenda for South Africa if the country wants to continue working toward its economic and social development ambitions successfully. This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking at the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA 2019) in Cape Town on Thursday, the President highlighted the challenges faced by state-owned power utility Eskom and the urgent steps government would take to manage these.

“Security of energy supply is an absolute imperative. Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great. It could severely damage our economic and social development ambitions, he said.

Eskom split

The president added that the struggling utility would be broken up into three divisions as part of the efforts to turn it around.

“To bring credibility to the turnaround and to position South Africa’s power sector for the future, we shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings,” he explained.

Establishing long term sustainability

Ramaphosa said the move ensure that government could isolate costs and give responsibility to each appropriate entity. He added that it would also support Eskom’s efforts to raise funds for its various operations more easily.

“Of particular and immediate importance is the entity to manage an independent state-owned transmission grid combined with the systems operator and power planning, procurement and buying functions.”

“It is imperative that we undertake these measures without delay to stabilise Eskom’s finances, ensure security of electricity supply, and establish the basis for long-term sustainability,” he noted.

Load shedding

Meanwhile the utility on Sunday announced it would be implementing stage 2 load shedding due to the power system being constrained by a number of breakdowns.

“With the depletion of our water and diesel resources, there is a great likelihood that we’ll start the new work week from a weak operational position, meaning that there is a high probability of load shedding,” explained Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.