Decade of electricity
One of the great enablers of national transformation in South Africa has been the rate at which we have been able to electrify new homes and businesses. Electricity transforms quality of life on an individual level in so many ways. Students no longer learn by candlelight, mothers don't pollute the air with coal-based fires, and refrigerators change shopping patterns. Whether by radio, TV or the Internet, communication becomes a reality. New businesses flourish. Eskom is one of the unsung heroes on the transformation stage. It has also, over the past decade, become a powerful contributor to the aims of Nepad.
Give a person a house and they have shelter; give a person food and they have health; give a person electricity... and they have hope.
Electricity is essential for socio-economic development. It brings improvements to both the standard of living and the economy as a whole.
Since South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, Eskom has brought electricity to almost three million South African households, mostly in underdeveloped rural areas. Through Africa has the natural resources and capacity to supply all of its own electrification needs. South Africa now supplies much of sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the continent with electricity.
In 1999,Eskom made a three-year commitment to electrify a further 600,000 homes between 2000 and 2002. This target was not only achieved but surpassed. Since the inception of Eskom's electrification programme in 1991, a total of 2,812, 840 homes have been electrified.
Eskom spent R546m of the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) funding on electrifying a further 211,628 homes (including those of farm workers) during 2002.
External focus Eskom is also answering the call to become Africa's global player in its field.Its interests are no longer solely confined to electricity; they now include energy and related services. Consequently, Eskom now has a presence in more than 30 African countries. Plans include coal, pumped storage solar, hydro, wind, and nuclear energy generators.
A number of joint ventures, electricity generation and transmission agreements are already in place, in countries such as Uganda, Senegal, Mauritania, Nigeria and Morocco..
In Africa, Eskom playsa leadership role in the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electricity in Africa(UPDEA) - a non-profit continental organisation. Eskom Enterprisesrecognises the seminal role Nepad has to play in sustainable economic and social development , and is partnering it in the selection, planning, design, packing and implementation of electricity projects to develop an integrated Pan-African power grid system.
View of the future
As the African continent is faced with the challenge of integrating its power system to increase energy trading and consumption, Eskom Enterprises is poised to enter into cooperation agreements and joint ventures with numerous African utilities, local investors and multilateral funding institutions.
These partnerships will advance the cross-border links necessary to realise the Pan-African grid. Specific contributions include the development of the Malawi and Mozambique transmission line, the Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya transmission line and the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa transmission line.
In order to put into action its contribution to Africa's economic reawakening, Eskom intends to diversify its interests further while expanding its global reach. This will not be achieved through organic growth, but through concerted investments within an agreed framework for growth along the route indicated by Eskom's strategic business model for 2010.
Africa - More Good News, edited by Brett Bowes and Steuart Pennington (November 2003).
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