JOHANNESBURG – South Africa government on Wednesday appointed Matshela Koko as acting chief executive of the country’s sole power utility Eskom with effect from December 1, giving the struggling firm it’s second head in as many years.
Koko, who is in charge of power generation and has worked at Eskom since 1996, replaces Brain Molefe, who resigned after being implicated in allegations of influence peddling in a report by the anti-graft watchdog. Molefe has denied any wrongdoing.
In his first remarks after taking charge of Eskom, Koko told the ANN7 channel that he would ensure Eskom “relies less and less on government financial support.”
Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings on Friday cut Eskom’s credit rating a further notch into subinvestment, citing financial pressures faced by Eskom.
Koko reiterated his support of the government’s nuclear expansion plans, saying “we must set ourselves on the path of building nuclear plants by 2030.”
South Africa, which has the continent’s only nuclear power station, has earmarked nuclear expansion as the centrepiece of a plan to increase power generation to ease the country’s reliance on an ageing fleet of coal-fired energy plants.
The energy department said last week it would delay plans to add 9,600 MW of new nuclear power to 2030, from a previous target of 2025.
Pubic Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, who appointed Koko, asked the utility’s board to find a permanent chief executive.
Molefe was appointed acting CEO at Eskom from his role as the chief executive of the state transport firm Transnet in April 2015, replacing Tshediso Matona, who was suspended pending an inquiry into Eskom woes. Eskom later said it had agreed to amicably part ways with Matona.
Molefe was confirmed to his post in September but resigned shortly after being implicated in the anti-graft report.