Chris Yelland, EE Publishers, 10 August, 2017.
During a wide-ranging interview with Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Friday 4 August 2017, EE Publishers investigative editor Chris Yelland took the opportunity to get an update from her on the state of the proposed nuclear new-build programme in South Africa.
It was all on track
This time last year, the procurement process for the proposed 9,6 GW of nuclear new-build in South Africa appeared to be well on track, and was indeed forging ahead. Brian Molefe, the hero, was firmly in control at Eskom, and had recently returned as a committed nuclear evangelist from a nuclear power induction programme for utility executives at MIT in the USA. Matshela Koko was head of generation at Eskom, and held similar pro-nuclear views.
Molefe put out an unsubstantiated and unlikely position statement that Eskom would soon be cash-flush, and could handle the proposed nuclear new-build on the strength of its own balance sheet, without the need for any financial support or guarantees from government and the Treasury.
The incumbent energy minister at the time, Tina Joemat-Pettersson appeared more than eager to rid herself and government of the burdensome nuclear hot potato, and happily dumped the responsibility to procure, build, own and operate the new-build onto Eskom, just as Molefe and Koko had asked.
Perhaps Molefe and Koko’s nuclear commitment was not entirely based on sound economic, financial and planning principles, nor in the best interests of South Africa and Eskom. Perhaps there were other nefarious agendas at play.
Whatever, Eskom seized the opportunity, and sprang into action, commencing the nuclear procurement process, and preparing to issue the long-awaited formal request for proposals (RFP) to the Russian, Chinese, South Korean, American and French nuclear vendors before the end of 2016…