In a reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary question, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, revealed that Eskom is owed R632 million in outstanding payments by foreign state-owned power utilities.
A breakdown of the debts can be seen below:
- ZESA Zimbabwe – R322 million: Zimbabwe has economic challenges due to political challenges which have led to it being unable to honour its debt obligations. Eskom and ZESA currently have a payment plan agreement for the settlement of the debt and ZESA is paying off the debt as per the agreement.
- Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) – R221 million: Eskom supplies EDM with standby power. The utility has financial constraints due to their generation mix which includes IPP’s which are contracted on a take-or-pay basis.
- ZESCO Zambia – R89 million: ZESCO owes Eskom due to power supplied during the previous drought period. The country has economic challenges which have led to it being unable to honour its debt obligations. Eskom owes ZESCO for energy imbalance which arises out of managing the regional system. Eskom and ZESCO are currently concluding a payment plan agreement for the settlement of the debt.
While the Minister might be of the view that this R632 million will have a minimal impact on Eskom’s cash flow, the reality is that every cent counts when the power utility has a mountain of debt in the area of more than R420 billion. Half a billion Rand is an astonishing amount of money and could, in the long term, go a long way