Karpowership – Is Eskom Taking us for a Ride Again?

Eskom is on the verge of signing a 20-year deal for Karpowership to provide 1220MW of ship-based power for 20 years at 3 locations around South Africa.  The contract does not include the land side costs of connecting to the grid i.e., switchgear, transformers and distribution lines.  It also probably does not include the wharfage costs payable to Portnet.

Main picture: Gas turbine

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Why Eskom is a Basket Case?

Imagine that one has a net income of R10,000 per month but owes the bank interest of R15,000  per month on loans of R.5m. Despite this disastrous financial position one nevertheless decides to increase the children’s pocket money by 20% whilst simultaneously taking unpaid leave amounting to 20 days. To prevent one’s family from starving, one then approaches one’s retired parents for a stipend of R5,000 per month. This will keep the wolf from the door but unless drastic cuts are made to the expenses, reductions made in the number of free-loading married children, and boosting one’s income, one will have to approach one’s aging parents on a biannual, if not annual, basis for increases in one’s allowance.

That is the quagmire in which Eskom is mired.

Main picture:  Eskom plant at full production

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Eskom: What really Happened?

Numerous reasons have been trotted out over the years by the powers-that-be as to the exact cause of load shedding. Amongst them were the unbelievable such as the coal being wet to the non-sensible excuse in which Apartheid was blamed. In the latter case, the logic was that Blacks were now permitted to use electricity, thus creating additional demand. Finally, last week, the real underlying cause of the shortage of electricity was eventually revealed. Why have these reasons been hidden from the public’s purview for so long?

Main picture: Cartoon encapsulating two of South Africa’s ogres – corruption and load-shedding

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Do They Really Think that we are that Stupid?

Of course they do. And we are. First we had President Zuma laughing his way through a Parliamentary session on the Budget. Then the Minister of Police had to the temerity to insult our intelligence by baldly stating that the most unlikely expenditure on Nkandla, Zuma’s private residence, were all installed for security purposes. Then FIFA bribe scandal broke. To cap it all, is the ongoing saga about Eskom.

After Nkandlagate the next episode of the soap opera that is South Africa under Zuma was released. Then came the FIFA imbroglio in which the American FBI allege that the South Africans paid a bribe to a FIFA executive amounting to $10 million. What has been the government’s reaction? Bluster, lies and cover-ups from the Minister of Sports, Fikile Mbalula. At the best of times, he first has to remove the one foot from his mouth before he can insert the other one. Upon closer inspection after every denial, investigative journalists would undercover another piece of the jigsaw puzzle which would undermine part of the denial. Like the seasoned politician that he is, he just dug himself a bigger hole through more bluster.

Main picture: Silo collapse at Majuba Power Station

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Electricity: Crisis? What Crisis?

Typical political spin. How can I tell? The new CEO of Eskom had barely put his feet under the desk and the denials commence yet again. What would the typical response of the new appointee in the private sector? In order to ensure that the sins of his predecessors are not borne by himself, he will perform a rigorous, if not over-diligent abd exhaustive cleaning of the Augean Stables. What is the politician’s instinct? A cover-up!

“Crisis? What Crisis?” was an iconic album by Supertramp in the 1970s. The cover of the Album shows a member of the band in a bathing costume reclining in a deck chair as if he was on Brighton Beach in mid-summer sunning himself. So far so good except that littered all around him are scenes of devastation.

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