Eskom is an almost impossible problem

Eskom has far too much debt to be viable. It is far too important to fail. And it is prey to for too many special interests – labour unions in particular – to be rescued or repaired. In short, Eskom is an almost impossible problem.

With its enormous debt burden, there is no real way for the utility to invest in improvements to generate the power it needs to generate. No private capital will be forthcoming as no one wants to throw good money after bad. If Eskom were to fail, the economic consequences would be immediate and catastrophic. Yet every attempt to impose new rules, discipline, or necessary job losses have failed due to labour opposition.

It’s easy to lay out the problems at Eskom, and difficult to imagine a solution. With every day that passes, the tensions and contradictions of the situation grow more acute. Some resolution is needed, but there’s little indication of what that may be.