The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes news that the City and Eskom are in discussion about the possible transfer of Eskom staff and infrastructure to the City, as reported in recent months. If the move goes ahead the City would absorb Eskom-managed clients and infrastructure into its budget. About 15% of City residents receive power direct from Eskom.
While such a transfer would most likely result in greater efficiencies, the City still needs to complete a full feasibility study to assess project viability.
The takeover would involve assuming responsibility for historical electricity infrastructure backlogs in multiple informal areas and would therefore require additional budget allocations. However, the City's track record in servicing clients and managing electricity infrastructure is superior to that of Eskom. Integrating all electricity infrastructure under a single management unit would therefore contribute towards greater operational efficiency.
News of the City's bid to consolidate management control of power supply within the Metro precinct coincides with efforts to engage the business community about possible load shedding curtailment in key industrial areas. We welcome this initiative, too, and are mobilising our members to assist the City in finalising the plan. It entails private business reducing consumption by 20 %, which could be achieved via installation of renewable energy infrastructure. Although project logistics are still under discussion, we welcome this initiative along with the City's multiple other efforts to reduce dependence upon Eskom.
The Chamber also welcomes Provincial Government initiatives aimed at alleviating load shedding pressures in small towns. This comes amid growing anxiety around Eskom's seeming inability to maintain its ageing fleet of power stations. In recent months threats of a total grid collapse have moved centre stage as key financial institutions balk at investment into Eskom's coal-fired power stations.
Last month Standard Chartered Bank Southern Africa joined the list of financial services firms ill-disposed towards Eskom's invitation for private sector partnership in extending the life of its outdated fleet.
The Chamber is of the view that a broad-based civil society response to the current energy crisis is more vital than ever. Recent events suggest government is increasingly out of touch with both civil society and private sector stakeholders regarding the extent of the energy crisis and how best to respond; instead of listening to stakeholder concerns, government appears determined to impose its own Eskom rehabilitation plan, at all costs.
The Chamber urges its government partners to accelerate efforts to seek meaningful private sector partnership in building a sustainable energy future.
Jacques Moolman President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry