Power struggle: Eskom takes Joburg’s City Power to court over R1bn owed

In South Africa, the battle over power payments heats up as Eskom takes City Power to court for over R1 billion owed. This clash comes amidst a surprising streak of uninterrupted electricity, sparking suspicion and scrutiny just ahead of crucial elections. While political parties debate the reasons behind this power stability, initiatives like GoSolr, backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe, are stepping in to beat blackouts with a massive investment in solar solutions, signalling a potential shift in the nation’s energy landscape.

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By Mpho Hlakudi

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has asked the High Court to compel Johannesburg’s energy utility, City Power, to pay 1.073 billion rand ($58 million) it owes South Africa’s state-owned power company, it said in a statement on X.

“This dire situation not only undermines Eskom’s financial sustainability but also threatens its ability to maintain essential infrastructure, invest in new technologies and meet the growing energy demands of the province.” it said.

The case will be heard June 4.

S. Africa Power System Improvement Ongoing: Electricity Minister (May 6, 12:39 p.m.)

South Africa has had no power cuts for 40 days as Eskom’s “machines are performing better,” Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said in online briefing.

The improved performance is expected to continue this month, he added.

 Read More: S. Africa Power System Improvement Ongoing: Electricity Minister

The Lights Are On in South Africa and Many People Are Suspicious (May 3, 7 a.m.)

South Africa’s rare streak of uninterrupted electricity right before elections has been drawing more suspicion than praise in a nation that’s become accustomed to almost daily power cuts that have dragged on for years.

The recovery coincides with political parties ramping up their campaigns before the May 29 vote, in which the ruling African National Congress risks losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades. Almost two-thirds of people in a BrandMapp-Silverstone survey last year said they’d consider not voting for the ANC because of power cuts.

The main opposition, the Democratic Alliance has put the improved power supply down to the state quadrupling the billions of rands it spends on diesel to run emergency plants over the past four years. The government insists it’s the result of the work state utility Eskom has done on repairing its facilities.

South Africa Factory Mood Surges to Near Two-Year High (May 2, 11:37 a.m.)

A gauge measuring South African manufacturing sentiment rebounded to a near two-year high, boosted by a full month without power cuts for the first time since January 2022 and improved domestic demand.

Absa Group Ltd.’s purchasing managers’ index, compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research, exited contraction territory and climbed to 54 in April, compared with 49.2 the prior month. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected the index to edge to 50.5.

Read more: Bagraim: ANC’s ‘existential’ threat to estate agents via BEE ownership an election ploy, unconstitutional

Billionaire-Backed GoSolr Expands to Beat South Africa Blackouts (May 2, 7 a.m.)

GoSolr, a company backed by South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe and the continent’s biggest bank, plans to spend 10 billion rand ($537 million) to roll out a model of renting solar panels and batteries to homes in the nation plagued by blackouts. 

The two-and-a-half-year-old company seeks to install about 500 megawatts of solar-generation capacity in four years. That’s up from its current 70 megawatts, said Andrew Middleton, GoSolr’s chief executive officer. It has attracted investment and financing from Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital Investments Ltd. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. 

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