“Eskom’s application for a 17% electricity tariff increase to compensate it for the millions of rands it lost by imposing the recent power cuts – marked a new level of arrogance and contempt for the public,” says Geoff Jacobs, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“It was typical of monopoly managers who think they are invulnerable to the market and can therefore treat their customers like dumb sheep”, he said.
“But, they are in for a shock. Like the postal service and landline operators elsewhere, Eskom will find the progress of technological change unstoppable. Just as email has dealt a body blow to letter writing, and cell phones are slowly but surely edging out landlines, there will come a time when massive state-owned power utilities run by overpopulated bureaucracies like Eskom will meet the same fate.
“It would be better to recognize the inevitable and unbundle Eskom now, rather than allow political thinking to trump economic reality. There is no other way to stop its massive drain on the public purse and to end its damage to the South African economy,” Jacobs said.
“Meanwhile the market will take action. People will turn to gas for cooking and cooling, to solar powered geysers and LED lighting.
“Technology will follow the demand. Already, University of the Free State researchers are confident that within a decade their breakthrough will produce window glass that will double as a photovoltaic panel.
“In other words there is a very real prospect of thousands office blocks, factories and homes going off grid.
“Eskom managers should read the writing on the wall,” Jacobs said.
“Their days are numbered”.