Matrics face load-shedding maelstrom

Eskom load shedding

Eskom load shedding

Published Jan 20, 2024


Durban — Dan Marokane will take his first sip from the poisoned chalice that is Eskom on March 1, when he takes over as group chief executive.

Marokane comes with good credentials. An engineer with an MBA, he has worked at troubled organisations, stepping up to lead Tongaat Hulett when the chief executive resigned. He also has Eskom experience, having worked there in the past.

However, Marokane, in a sign of the desperate situation at the embattled power utility, will take up his post a month earlier than expected, and while the National Energy Regulator of South Africa considers public comment on the implementation of a new load-shedding structure with the maximum to be stage 16.

Although experts say we are unlikely to ever reach stage 16, when 80% of the grid would be switched off, a load-shedding system was introduced in 2010 with only four stages, which was then upgraded to eight stages in 2019.

Marokane must not only contend with the corruption, maladministration, incompetence and ageing infrastructure at Eskom, he must also tread the path between decreasing demand – as more and more businesses and homes which can afford to switch to solar – and the increasing cost to supply power to many who do not pay for it.

And while we wait for the new structure to be introduced, hundreds of thousands of teenagers currently being celebrated for passing matric will enter the job market in an economy projected to grow by just 1% year-on-year.

Last year’s growth was pegged at less than 1%, due, in no small part, to businesses being unable to operate optimally because of load shedding.

With tertiary institutions only able to absorb a fraction of the matriculants, the remainder are thrown to the mercy of the shrinking job market, in an environment where 80% of the electricity grid could be shut down for periods of time.

Marokane, chosen from more than 400 applicants for the job, will have to be every bit as good as he is touted to be, and then some, to give them – and the rest of the country – hope.

Independent on Saturday