Eskom and Africa


Eskom has a hand in electricity generation and distribution across a wide swath of Africa, and is currently involved in the electricity sectors of some 31 African nations. Its role in owning and operating hydropower projects is growing. In some cases, it is buying up existing dams, and in other cases is proposing to help finance or buy the electricity from new dams. As its influence around the continent expands, it is likely to be more involved in the damming of Africa’s rivers.

Eskom's Expanding Empire - The Social and Ecological Footprint of Africa's  Largest Power Utility | International Rivers



Escom power to Africa and South Africa


Various African countries are involved:

Eskom inligting en jaarverslae – Information


An article of 2003 explained already the position of Eskom in Africa.

With a generating capacity of more than 40,000 MW, South Africa–based Eskom is Africa’s largest energy utility, and ranks as one of the top five energy utilities in the world. Eskom is a de facto monopoly in South Africa, and also generates over half the electricity produced in the whole of Africa, with operations in 31 countries on the continent.

Because of its heavy reliance on coal, it is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa. Eskom management has also stated that it intends to rely increasingly on nuclear power. And in recent years, Eskom has begun to promote new dams and buy existing hydropower plants around the continent as it seeks to expand its influence across Africa. This paper explores the company’s social and ecological footprint across Africa.

Eskom produces about 90% of electricity generated in South Africa. It also owns and operates the national transmission system. Eskom operates 13 coal fired power stations, a large nuclear plant, two gas turbine facilities, two conventional hydroelectric plants, and two pumped–storage projects. Power station construction was based on projections of historic demand growth, and by 1980, it became apparent that Eskom had committed itself to expensive over–capacity, a situation that has prevailed for the past 15 years. 

Eskom receives its coal at rock–bottom prices. Due to large and relatively easily recoverable coal reserves, and a lack of accounting for the costs of environmental and social impacts, the cost of South Africa’s electricity is of the lowest in the world. However, Eskom also generates a heavy foreign debt (in 1990, it amounted to about 45% of total public sector foreign debt and 16% of South Africa total foreign debt).

According to the South African newspaper Business Day, Eskom Enterprises was formed to make up for a loss of revenue in Eskom that is expected to come from a government–ordered sell–off of some of its South African assets. The article states, “The development of projects on the continent is important for [Eskom] to drive revenue growth outside of its regulated business in SA “Government is planning to sell up to 30% of Eskom’s generation assets in the next two to three years, which will lead to the holding company losing revenue it needs to make up elsewhere.”

Eskom also manages or owns shares of hydro plants around the continent, including the following:

  • A 15–year operation and maintenance contract for the Manantali Dam in Mali, which Manantali will provide electricity to Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. This project has had severe impacts on the regional ecology, local agricultural production, fisheries, and public health. The reservoir forced 12,000 agriculturalists to resettle, and severely compromised their livelihoods.

  • A 20–year concession to operate Kiira and Nalubale dams on the Nile in Uganda (these dams currently supply virtually all the nation’s grid–electricity).

  • A 51% shareholding in Zambia’s Lusemfwa Hydro Power Company, which owns two hydropower stations in Zambia at Mulungushi and Lusemfwa.

The peace accord in the Democratic Republic of Congo could herald a revival of the massive Grand Inga project, which ESKOM has stated it sees as a priority project. The Grand Inga scheme (another NEPAD project) is estimated to provide 40,000 megawatts from dozens of so–called “run of river” dams (two phases with a combined capacity of 1 775 megawatts have already been completed).

Wind power would play a major role in meeting such goals, as South Africa and other nations within Eskom’s realm have very good wind–power potential. Wind experts in South Africa have also called for a national plan for wind generated electricity. The fastest growing power source in the world, wind power is only at the pilot project stage in southern Africa. Critics note though that the company is moving quickly into the nuclear field, and intends to build a new plant near Koeberg that has prompted legal challenges by the group Earthlife Africa. Liz McDaid, campaign coordinator, notes that wind energy is “far more likely to provide jobs for the skill level of South African workers” as compared to the hi–tech requirements of nuclear power. Currently, all wind equipment would have to be imported, which adds to its cost, but the potential exists for the development of a local industry, and for increased use of local components and manufacturing.

Eskom has a number of solar–energy programs, most of it on the scale of residential PV systems. But Eskom is also installing a large solar dish–engine project at the Development Bank of South Africa. The project is part of Eskom’s solar thermal electric program, which aims to evaluate such technologies for implementation in Southern Africa. These systems are able to convert sunlight into electricity at higher efficiencies than any other solar technologies.




Eskom is already active as an operator of the power system for Senegal, Mauritania and Mali and the generation system in Uganda, but the future priority areas will probably be within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).   There are other countries as well.

SADC offers “significant future opportunities”, particularly in securing “cleaner forms of energy”, such as in natural gas and hydroelectricity. 

Eskom’s African strategy is emerging as Africa’s heads of State are moving to support a pipeline of 15 energy projects, with a combined price tag of $40.5-billion, to foster further economic growth.

The transmission projects included are the North-South Transmission link, from Egypt to South Africa, with branches mostly into East Africa; the Central Corridor, from Angola to South Africa, with branch lines into Central and West Africa; a North African Transmission Corridor from Egypt to Morocco, with links through Libya, Tunisia and Algeria; and the West African Power Transmission Corridor, linking Ghana to Senegal, with branches.


The nine hydroelectric projects include the Great Millennium Renaissance Dam, in Ethiopia; the Mphanda-Nkuwa project, in Mozambique; the Inga hydro projects, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the hydropower component of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 2; the Sambangalou project, on the Gambia river; the Kaleta II, in Guinea; the Batoka Gorge project, on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border; the Ruzizi III project, in Rwanda; and the Rusumo Falls development, being pursued by Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. 

The energy projects have been prioritised in line with an African Union aspiration to raise energy access across the continent to better than 60% by 2040.

The two pipelines listed are the Uganda–Kenya petroleum products pipeline and the Nigeria–Algeria gas pipeline.


Eskom het ‘n baie groot aandeel in elektrisiteitsopwekking en -verspreiding oor ‘n wye deel van Afrika, en is tans betrokke by die elektrisiteitsektore van sowat 31 Afrika-lande. Sy rol in die besit en bedryf van hidrokragprojekte groei is ook duidelik – dit is ook voordelig, maar bereik hierdie ontwikkelings die armes wat sonder elektrisiteit sit of beurtkrag moet verduur?

In sommige gevalle is dit die aankoop van bestaande damme, en in ander gevalle stel dit voor om te help om die elektrisiteit van nuwe damme te finansier of te koop. Namate sy invloed rondom die vasteland uitbrei, sal dit waarskynlik meer betrokke wees by die opdam van Afrika se riviere. 

Hoeveel gaan die landbousektor, wat verantwoordelik is vir voedselvoorsiening, moet prysgee?  Dit geld nie net vir Afrika nie.

Eskom-entiteit is reeds aktief as ‘n operateur van die kragstelsel in verskillende lande, onder andere vir Senegal, Mauritanië en Mali en die opwekkingstelsel in Uganda, maar die toekomstige prioriteitsgebiede sal waarskynlik binne die Suider-Afrikaanse Ontwikkelingsgemeenskap (SAOG) wees. Daar is ook ander lande.   Lees die onderskeie  jaarverslae vir dekades waar verskillende inligtingstukke voorkom. 

Die SAOG bied “beduidende toekomstige geleenthede”, nie net vir die lande betrokke nie, maar veral in die beveiliging van “skoner vorms van energie”, soos in aardgas en hidro-elektrisiteit.

Eskom se Afrika-strategie kom na vore terwyl Afrika se staatshoofde beweeg om ‘n pyplyn van 15 energieprojekte te ondersteun, met ‘n gekombineerde prysetiket van $40,5 biljoen, om verdere ekonomiese groei te bevorder.

Die transmissieprojekte wat hierby ingesluit is, is die Noord-Suid Transmissieverbinding, van Egipte na Suid-Afrika, met vertakkings meestal na Oos-Afrika; die Sentrale Korridor, van Angola na Suid-Afrika, met taklyne na Sentraal- en Wes-Afrika; ‘n Noord-Afrikaanse Transmissiekorridor van Egipte na Marokko, met skakels deur Libië, Tunisië en Algerië; en die Wes-Afrikaanse Kragoordragkorridor, wat Ghana met Senegal met verskillende takke verbind, insluit.

Die nege hidro-elektriese projekte sluit die Groot Millennium Renaissance Dam in Ethiopië hierby in;   die Mphanda-Nkuwa-projek in Mosambiek; die Inga hidro-projekte in die Demokratiese Republiek van die Kongo; die hidrokragkomponent van die Lesotho Hoogland Waterprojek Fase 2;   die Sambangalou-projek aan die Gambië-rivier;   die Kaleta II in Guinee; die Batoka Gorge-projek op die Zambië-Zimbabwe-grens;   die Ruzizi III-projek in Rwanda; en sluit ook die Rusumo-waterval-ontwikkeling wat deur Tanzanië, Rwanda en Burundi nagestreef word, hierby in.



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