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South Africa: Power distributors urged to invest

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has released its findings of an audit into 11 mainly major electricity distributors in the country, recommending that the government spend more than R400-million in refurbishing them.
The energy regulator has been forced to intervene following a spate of power outages across the country in 2005, blamed mainly on the poor state of electricity distribution infrastructure in the country.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Nersa chairperson Collin Matjila said the problem was especially severe in smaller municipalities.

"They are heavily under-resourced and stressed in the delivery of the necessary levels of service," he said.

The audit has also found that few formal systems are in place to ensure proper maintenance of electricity infrastructure, with much reliance being placed on individual engineers.

"This adds great risk when individuals leave the service at the same time limiting the introduction of modern, innovative technologies and systems thus ensuring that these utilities will remain static," Matjila said.

The audit found that the 11 distributors, namely Ekurhuleni (East Rand), Tshwane (Greater Pretoria), Cape Town, Ethekwini (Greater Durban), Emfuleni (Greater Vereeniging), Mangaung (Greater Bloemfontein), Msunduzi (Greater Pietermaritzburg), the Nelson Mandela Metro (Greater Port Elizabeth) and Rustenburg, as well as Eskom’s Southern and North West regions, needed to spend R431-million on their electricity networks.

State-owned electricity utility Eskom is currently on a skills development drive, hoping to attract up to 400 engineers, with more than 200 already hired. In addition they are hoping to lure older engineers out of retirement to train apprentices.

Matjila said, however, that the energy regulator was encouraged by the well designed and installed energy networks in the country's metropolitan municipalities.

"The electricity transmission and distribution systems operated by Metros are generally of a well-designed and serviceable state," he said.

News courtesy

Additional information: Download the executive summary (courtesy EEPublishers).
News date: 03/05/2007

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