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Molefe and nuclear to dominate power gathering

May 16 2017 06:01
Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24

Cape Town – Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and South Africa’s stalled nuclear procurement programme will feature prominently at the African Utility Week in Cape Town from Tuesday.

All eyes will be on Molefe, who returned to the Eskom hot seat on Monday and who is expected to open the conference with a keynote address.

The African National Congress summonsed Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to Luthuli House on Monday, after they demanded she reverse her decision to allow Molefe’s return or remove the entire Eskom board.

Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane, is set to speak after Molefe at the conference. Both Brown and Ngubane have praised Molefe for his strong leadership at Eskom and credited him with solving the load shedding crisis and the utility’s financial problems.

Brown argued that Molefe’s return to Eskom was a better value proposition than paying him his R30m pension payout.

READ: Molefe's Eskom return better than R30m payout - Brown

The Democratic Alliance on Monday filed a court application to overturn this decision and to block Molefe from performing his duties as chief executive.

“Mr Molefe’s appearance at African Utility Week will be one of his first public appearances since the Eskom board announced last week that he was returning to his job as chief executive of Eskom,” Africa Utility Week said in a statement on Sunday.

Thursday will see nuclear dominate the conference in Cape Town, as Rosatom vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa discusses the future of nuclear energy in South Africa and other countries in the region. EDF project director Olivier Bard will also speak about the status of nuclear energy.

Rosatom and EDF are competing to win South Africa’s 9.6 GW nuclear procurement new build programme and had sent Eskom submissions for its request for information in April.

South African state-owned nuclear firm Necsa will also feature, with CEO Phumzile Tshwane, chairperson Kelvin Kemm and Eskom chief nuclear officer David Nicholls discussing the impact of the nuclear court ruling in April, which reset the procurement process.

READ: Energy minister to cough up for nuclear court costs

The Department of Energy (DoE) said it would comply with the Western Cape High Court ruling, which set aside various intergovernmental agreements, the transfer of procurement agent from the DoE to Eskom and the launch of the procurement programme.

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said South Africa will sign standardised agreements with the US, China, South Korea, France and Russia, starting in June.

“Nuclear remains a core component of government’s energy mix that includes renewables,” Kubayi said. “However, all our processes will now be in line with the constitution and open and transparent as we don’t want to be in court every week.”

African Utility Week said that there will be “an exciting announcement” by Nicholls during his presentation on Eskom’s study on advanced high temperature nuclear reactors on Thursday.

Other topics being covered at the African Utility Week include generation, transmission and distribution, revenue cycle and metering, and water.

Gas to power and renewable energy will also have exclusive programmes at the conference.

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