Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg-  State-owned power utility Eskom needs a firm plan of action to make it more efficient and productive and its monopoly on electricity must be broken, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

Eskom was forced to implement an emergency blackout on Sunday, referred to as Stage 1 load shedding, after revealing that five of its coal power stations have less than 10 days of coal supply left.

"These outages are proof that South Africa desperately needs a long-term solution to reshape the entire energy sector," DA shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said.

"Eskom is in complete crisis mode. The utility is now looking to spend R1 billion on diesel over the next four months to fill the gap and keep the lights on. This is unsustainable."

She said the crisis at the utility indicated "a complete lack of long-term planning and strategy" and that this was why the DA had introduced its proposed Independent System and Market Operator bill which would see the company split into two - a transmission/grid entity and a generating entity.

The generating entity would then compete with other power producers on an equal footing, with price and efficiency being the main determinants of delivering power to the national electricity grid.

"Eskom’s monopolistic stranglehold of power delivery to the economy must be broken. This is the only way we can free up the energy space to competition, stability and reliability," Mazzone said.

"At the same time, Eskom needs to start trimming the fat around its employment expenses especially considering its bloated workforce."

Eskom generates approximately 95 percent of the electricity used in South Africa and roughly 45 percent of that used on the entire African continent.

African News Agency/ANA