Shortly after new Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, read Eskom Generation the riot act at the 2014 Eskom financial results presentation on July 11 2014, there are signs that a significant shake-up is on the cards at Eskom.
Mike Rossouw, former general manager, engineering, at Richards Bay Minerals, group executive strategy and risk at Impala Platinum, executive director at Xstrata Alloys and then executive director, power, at Hatch South Africa, has moved to Eskom as “energy thought leader”, with the role of “accelerating the recovery of Eskom’s generation fleet capacity and reliability”.
In order to be independent of industry players, Rossouw has resigned as a director of Hatch South Africa, and now has an employment contract directly with Eskom, where he reports to the current acting Eskom CEO, Collin Matjila. Rossouw was on the board of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) from about 1999 to 2004, at a time when Matjila was chairman of Nersa.
It is understood that Rossouw will be assisting and supporting Matjila, and the still to be appointed new CEO of Eskom, on strategic, technical and engineering issues facing Eskom Generation, and indeed the wider Eskom group.
While a director of Xstrata Alloys in South Africa, Rossouw served as chairman of the Energy Intensive User Group (EIUG) for several years, during which time he was also chairman of the National Emergency Response Team (Nert) after the 2008 Eskom blackouts, and programme manager of the working group that drafted the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity IRP 2010–2030 for the Department of Energy (DoE).
At the Eskom financial results presentation, the Minister of Public Enterprises said that only 57% of Eskom’s performance targets had been met, that she was tired of the rhetoric, and that Eskom needs to stop the decline in generation performance, think outside the box and do something extraordinary.
Then at the budget vote speech to Parliament on July 16 2014, the minister said that state-owned companies like Eskom “must simply get the basics right”, and that their boards and management must be “paragons of strong, visionary and strategic leadership, cutting edge business practices, innovation and exemplary governance”.
She added that “resolving the challenge of shifting this country to a situation in which we have ample reserves of affordable and reliable electricity is a very high priority”.
She went on further to say that a sustainable funding framework that is independent of the fiscus is required, and that this framework must attract private sector funding and guarantee a reasonable return on assets, while allowing space for government to leverage the build programme for better developmental outcomes.
The above statements by the new Minister of Public Enterprises, together with those by new energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson (here and here), and the appointment of Mike Rossouw reporting to the acting Eskom CEO, appear to indicate that a shake-up is on the cards as part of a new urgency in addressing the severe problems facing the electricity supply industry in South Africa.
Chris Yelland is an investigative editor with EE Publishers
This article was first published here and republished with permission.