Private engineering firms, rather than municipalities, should supply consumers, with a view to encouraging healthy competition and keeping prices down and efficiencies up, says the writer. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Private engineering firms, rather than municipalities, should supply consumers, with a view to encouraging healthy competition and keeping prices down and efficiencies up, says the writer. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

More competitors must be involved in generating and selling electricity

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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By Terence Corrigan

As South Africa wrestles with a health pandemic whose impacts look set to be with us for some time to come, we dare not forget the crisis that preceded it – the country’s flagging power supply.

The malaise strikes at South Africa’s chances of remaining a competitive, modern economy. Failing which, it will suffer systemic retardation with all the long-term damage that implies.

The Institute of Race Relations proposes that Eskom be retained as a state-owned generator, while opening the sector to competition for the generation and sale of electricity. The transmission system would be removed from Eskom, vested in an independent operator and opened to other generators for a reasonable fee.

Private engineering firms, rather than municipalities, should supply consumers, with a view to encouraging healthy competition and keeping prices down and efficiencies up.

This will not be possible unless a major reorientation takes place. The purpose of a power supply system is to supply reliable, cost-effective power. This – not political, social or racial ambitions – must be the aim of policy, and the goal of Eskom’s reform.

The failed statist and race-based ideology that has caused so much damage must be dropped.

* Terence Corrigan is Project manager at the Institute of Race Relations.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

The Star

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