Problems in South Africa’s electricity sector will, sadly, continue to dominate the headlines and undermine growth and confidence in 2022. Despite the fact that the crisis is now deep into its second decade, there is little sign of immediate relief and load-shedding remains a clear and present danger.
Likewise, there is unlikely to be any reprieve from steeply rising tariffs, which were left too low for too long and have been poorly administered by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa in recent years.
The tariff structure, too, has failed to keep pace with changes under way in the electricity supply industry and, unless urgently restructured to prevent ‘death spirals’ at Eskom and municipal utilities, will also become a threat to the much-needed transition.
Eskom’s unsustainable debt, meanwhile, remains unresolved and there is no obvious solution that does not involve significant (between R150-billion and R200-billion) taxpayer support beyond that which has already been provided through guarantees and ad hoc injections.