JOHANNESBURG, Sept 25 (Reuters) – South Africa’s cabinet has appointed Brian Molefe as chief executive of power utility Eskom on a permanent basis, the public enterprises minister said on Friday.
Molefe had been acting chief executive since mid-April when he was drafted in from state rail freight firm Transnet to try to stabilise the troubled power producer, which is battling to keep the lights on in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown also said in a statement that the cabinet had appointed Ben Ngubane as chairman of Eskom’s board and Anoj Singh as chief financial officer of the state-owned company.
“I welcome these appointments and they are part of my ongoing interventions to stabilise Eskom,” Brown said.
Singh had also been on secondment from Transnet and Brown said its board would now look to replace him and Molefe, who face a formidable challenge as they try to turn Eskom around.
As well as struggling to supply power, Eskom faces a serious liquidity crunch. It has said it needs 200 billion rand ($14.5 billion) to plug a funding gap until 2018.
There has been some relief in recent weeks. On Sept. 14, Eskom imposed rolling power cuts for the first time in five weeks, and has not had to resort to them since then.
Earlier this year, South Africa suffered from almost daily blackouts as Eskom struggled to meet demand – a key reason behind the economy’s contraction in the second quarter.
But new generation capacity and a warmer than usual winter and spring have helped to stem shortages. ($1 = 13.7770 rand)
(Reporting by TJ Strydom and Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley and David Evans)
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