CAPE TOWN – South African power utility Eskom will spend 340 billion rand ($23.5 billion) over the next five years on new power plants and transmission lines, the public enterprises minister said on Tuesday.
Eskom is building new plants and transmission lines to augment a power-grid that nearly collapsed in 2008. The utility once again struggled to provide power early last year, resorting to enforced blackouts that dented economic growth.
“For the longest of time South Africans have had their lights on and load shedding has become a distant memory,” Minister Lynne Brown whose department oversees the power utility told parliament during her budget speech.
The state-owned company is building three new power plants and expects to add 5,620 megawatts (MW) to the network by 2018.
Brown also said Eskom, which provides virtually all the electricity to Africa’s most industrialised economy from coal-powered plants, paid above inflation prices to secure this coal with 23 billion rand going to four suppliers.
“Eskom is a 60 percent off-taker of coal in South Africa and should therefore be in a position to command better prices but contrary to that, Eskom coal costs have been growing above inflation levels,” she said.
Brown said the rest of Africa was a key growth area, with Eskom eyeing new business opportunities in the current financial year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Uganda.
($1 = 14.4778 rand)(Reuters)