Eskom will be slow to fix – CEO warns; SAA salaries; coronavirus in Africa

By Jackie Cameron

  • The head of Eskom will this week present a draft plan to change how the utility operates, as local media reported he’s considering unbundling the utility at a slower pace than envisaged by the government, reports Bloomberg. Stabilising Eskom is the government’s top priority.
  • South African Airways has saved enough cash to pay January salaries, specialists appointed to try to turn around the struggling airline reportedly said on Friday. State-owned SAA entered a form of bankruptcy protection last month. It has cancelled dozens of flights because of cash shortages. “The business rescue practitioners and management have taken various actions to ensure that cash is conserved. As a result we have sufficient funds to pay January salaries,” business rescue specialists Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana said, according to Reuters. Matuson and Dongwana were promised R4bn of funding from lenders and the government to sustain rescue efforts for SAA but only received the R2bn from lenders, says the news agency. Government officials are holding urgent meetings, trying to find a way to raise the promised funding for SAA quickly without exacerbating the country’s budget deficit, it adds.
  • The deadly coronavirus has arrived in Africa, and is spreading fast in China and elsewhere. The spread of a new virus that originated in China threatens to depress retail sales and tourism in Asia. In what could be the first case in Africa, authorities in the Ivory Coast said a passenger from Beijing that landed in Abidjan on Saturday showed symptoms and was being tested for the virus, reports Bloomberg. Austrian authorities said a Chinese flight attendant was in isolation in a Vienna hospital and was being tested for the virus. And, Bloomberg also reports that a clinical trial is underway using anti-HIV drugs ritonavir and lopinavir to treat cases of the new coronavirus, according to an article published in the Lancet medical journal Friday.
  • The International Monetary Fund estimates that growth in developing countries fell to 3.7% last year, the slowest pace since 2009 and well below the IMF’s July 2019 forecast of 4.1%, says Bloomberg. An expected rebound to 4.4% this year assumes highly uncertain recoveries in stressed economies such as Argentina, Iran and Turkey, as well as in countries where growth has slowed significantly – China, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa among them, it says.
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