Eskom interim CEO Phakamani Hadebe says the utility is keen to expand its services into other African countries.
“We have made a decision that our ambition is to play a bigger role on the continent,” he told the opening plenary of African Utility Week, in Cape Town, on Tuesday.
He said energy storage could also unlock significant opportunities for Africa, allowing Eskom to play a bigger role.
Partnerships with other African countries were critical.
“Energy is the lifeblood of Africa and it is a human right. It is not optional. It is essential. It is for this reason we should see ourselves as not representing utilities or countries but the continent.”
Hadebe lamented the slow pace of electrification in Africa.
“Despite a plethora of resources, African energy remains very slow. Our continent has more than 40% of all the people in the world without access to electricity.”
He quoted figures from the International Energy Agency that 75% of the population in ten countries in Africa do not have access to electricity. In another ten countries, 50% of people don’t have access to electricity.
“There are no more than three countries in Africa producing over 5 000 MW. It is our responsibility to change that trend. We need to strengthen our mutual partnerships, promote mergers and acquisitions and penetrate the energy market in Africa.”
He said Africa also needed to adapt to a changing world.
“Energy is moving speedily ahead, with energy storage, smart grid technologies, renewables, clean coal and nuclear energy. We should not be left behind on this.”
Hadebe said Africa held tremendous potential but needed to create opportunities to achieve its economic growth targets.
“We have tasted growth of 5% to 7% in Africa and it can be tasted again. We need to create an environment where Africans will not risk their lives to cross the ocean because there are no opportunities here.”
In South Africa, he said Eskom planned to upgrade its infrastructure by adding 6 700 km of high-voltage lines and 40 000 MVA of transformation capacity over the next ten years.
“On completion of this, we hope to increase the South African generating capacity by over 17 000 MW.”