JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African power utility Eskom, which is grappling with liquidity problems, pledged on Thursday that it would not resort to controlled power blackouts this year despite reports that it was facing coal shortages.
Eskom supplies about 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, predominantly by burning coal. The state-owned utility has been forced to introduce nationwide electricity cuts in the past decade, the latest in 2015, denting economic output.
“There will not be load-shedding this year,” said Eskom’s acting Chief Executive, Phakamani Hadebe, referring to forced interruptions to power supply.
Hadebe said that six power plants currently had less than the required coal supplies, down from seven recently, and the company has raised 43 billion rand ($3 billion) to run its operations since January.
“I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that we are safe,” Hadebe said. “We are confident that we are on the right trajectory.”
Eskom appointed a new board of directors in January to resolve a leadership crisis. New President Cyril Ramaphosa in February appointed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan as public enterprises minister, in charge of state companies such as Eskom.
The power company was at the heart of corruption scandals surrounding ousted president Jacob Zuma and is regularly cited by ratings agencies as a threat to the country’s creditworthiness. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.
Reporting by Alex Winning; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by David Goodman