By holding up agreements to buy power from the renewable energy sector Eskom is squandering billions of rand of both public and private investments. The utility’s damaging stance is reflected in Nedbank figures released this week that show a plunge in the number and value of new capital projects: 56 projects worth R89bn in 2016 after 92 projects worth R163bn in 2015. The bank says the slowdown in investment commitments was noticeable mainly in the private sector. The bad news adds to findings in a UN Conference on Trade and Development world investment report published in mid-2016. This shows SA’s lacklustre economy, low commodity prices and high electricity costs pushed foreign direct investment down 69% to $1.8bn in 2015, the lowest in 10 years. But the UN report might have added that government inaction over Eskom’s chaotic misfunctioning – along with other parastatals such as South African Airways and PetroSA that have had huge losses — is tantamount to the state shooting itself...

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