Eskom may sell assets to keep the lights on

South Africa’s cash-strapped power utility Eskom may sell some of its assets to raise capital as it scrambles to light up Africa’s most advanced economy, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Majuba Power Station. Photo Eskom
Majuba Power Station. Photo Eskom

Eskom, which provides virtually all of South Africa’s power, faces a funding crunch as it races to bring new power plants online to stave off an electricity crisis.

“We have serious financial constraints and extraordinary decisions are required,” Tshediso Matona told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit. “And we are doing that work right now to unlock cash from our balance sheet. We are looking at what we can do with our assets such as our property portfolio,” he said.

Aside from properties and a fleet of cars, Matona also mentioned the Eskom Finance Company, which is a home loan book for employees at the state-owned firm. “We can sell that book to the private sector or find some others ways to use that book to unlock cash.

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Eskom’s funding gap to 2018 is estimated at R200 billion ($17 billion) and it is getting a R23 billion cash injection from the government this year.

Weary South Africans are subjected to frequent controlled power cuts which Eskom implements to prevent the grid from being overwhelmed.