Former Eskom chief executive Brian Dames has been appointed to the task team. Picture: Parliament

Port Elizabeth - President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a high-level task team to come up with solutions to the many challenges that Eskom faces, the Presidency said in a statement on Friday.

And as a signal of the urgency of its task, the president has asked the Eskom sustainability task team to submit initial recommendations by the end of January 2019, the statement said.

Ramaphosa has engaged people with extensive expertise in electricity, management and economics to assess the power utility's operational, structural and financial viability. 

The president has appointed Anton Eberhard, Brian Dames (who is a former Eskom CEO), Tsakani Mthombeni, Sy Gourrah, Grové Steyn, Frans Baleni, Mick Davis and Busisiwe Vilakazi. 

The Eskom sustainability task team will review the board's turnaround strategy including the impact on tariffs and the industry, as well as the feasibility on solutions that it has proposed for the future role of the power utility.

The team will also assess its current business model and structure, present a view on energy trends globally, as well as provide proposals on how to position Eskom best, to examine its funding model going forward and on how to improve and strengthen its management.

It will also consult with labour, business and all other stakeholders, and it will work with the board of directors, management and the Department of Public Enterprises, the presidency said. 

"The assessments that will be carried out by the task team arise from government’s concern that the lack of adequate electricity has a negative impact on economic recovery and that there is a need for intervention in the short and medium term, to restore the supply-demand balance."

 Eskom has also been experiencing severe financial difficulties that have resulted in operational and financial issues.

According to the Presidency, the Eskom Sustainability Task Team will:

  • Assess the operational, structural and financial viability of Eskom, including key assumptions around life of plant, impact and cost of environment commitments and demand assumptions.
  • Review the turnaround strategy submitted by the Eskom Board of Directors. This will include a review of key assumptions, impact on tariffs and industry, and viability of proposed solutions on the future role of Eskom.
  • Assess the appropriateness of the current Eskom business model and structure.
  • Present a view on the current energy trends and the evolution of the global energy context.
  • Present a view on the role, positioning and structure of energy utilities and provide proposals.
  • Propose alternative business and financial models appropriate for the South African context.
  • Propose how the structure of the electricity industry in South Africa can adapt to evolving changes in this sector, including the harnessing of new technologies.
  • Make proposals to resolve the debt burden.

African News Agency/ANA