By Thozamile Ntingi
CAPE TOWN, May 15 — South Africans should brace themselves for rolling load-shedding for the next three years, says Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown.
Briefing the media ahead of presenting her department’s budget vote in Parliament here Thursday, Brown said the six State-owned enterprises (SOEs) reporting to her department had an asset base of 755 billion Rand (about 63.5 billion US dollars).
The companies are low-cost carrier SA Express, South African Airways, power utility Eskom, South African Forestry Company, military equipment manufacturer Denel and diamond miner Alexkor.
According to Brown, her department was in the process of finalising a comprehensive report defining criteria for State wwnership.
She also referred to the performance of the SOEs in her portfolio. Referring to Eskom, Brown said: “Let me be clear about load shedding, it will be with us for the next three years”
However, she also referred to reports that progress had been made regarding Eskom’s Medupi power station.
It is being reported that the first unit of Eskom’s long-delayed Medupi station produced 735 megawatts (MW) of electricity this week, moving it closer to the unit’s full-capacity of 794 MW needed to ease a power crunch which has been experienced in this country for many months.
Eskom has said the unit will deliver power intermittently. Medupi consists of six units, each producing about 794 MW for a total of 4,764 MW, which will represent 12 per cent of the beleaguered power utility’s total generating capacity.
Commenting on this, Brown said: “I am very pleased to announce that the ramp-up towards full output at Medupi has passed the 700-MW milestone. It will deliver the equivalent of more than 40 per cent of the output of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.”
She added that she had tasked the leadership of Eskom to accelerate the completion of its power plant construction programme, and also improve the generation capacity of the existing plants.
Referring to reports that the National Treasury is considering partially privatising Eskom or putting up some of its assets for sale to secure funding for the cash-strapped utility, which is struggling with serious power supply shortages, she said she was not in favour of privatising basic services such as electricity but did not rule out a strategic partner in some instances.
“I actually don’t really believe we should have privatization when it comes to basic services … (however) there are parts of what we own that could go to a strategic partner, but when it comes to basic services I am not in favour,” she said.