Eskom cuts debt a fifth after benefiting from exchange controls, efficiency drive

Pravin Gordhan, minister, Department of Public Enterprises

SOUTH African power utility Eskom had reduced its debt by nearly 20% after paying matured loans whilst also benefiting from a more favourable exchange rate, said Bloomberg News.

Citing comments by Public Enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan, in South Africa’s parliament today, the newswire said debt fell to R401bn at the end of March from R488bn a year earlier.

Eskom achieved savings of R13.5bn over the financial year, Gordhan was quoted as saying in an article by BusinessLive. Speaking in his budget vote speech, Gordhan said Eskom had made progress in several areas and has improved operational efficiencies.

A 15% tariff increase granted by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) would assist the company in reaching sustainability, he said.

Gordhan also commented that the restructuring of Eskom into three, separate, standalone entities for transmission, distribution and generation was on track.

The legal separation of the transmission entity — a critical step to opening up the electricity market — will be completed by December 2021 with the other two entities legally established by December 2022, said BusinessLive.

On the same day as this positive news, Eskom also raised the possibility of implementing a fresh round of loadshedding in South Africa from Tuesday evening. “A shortage of generation capacity, caused by breakdowns in generation units and delays in others returning to service, has resulted in supply constraints,” the utility said.