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Johannesburg — Soon after it began in 2011, SA’s renewable-power programme became the world’s fastest-growing. Almost $15bn poured into clean energy in seven years, financing everything from wind farms to solar towers. New independent power producers (IPPs) mushroomed, signing electricity purchase agreements with Eskom that were guaranteed by the government. Then Brian Molefe, who a subsequent graft probe would show was closely connected to President Jacob Zuma, became Eskom’s CEO in 2015. He stopped signing new contracts, saying the country didn’t need more renewable production because it was too expensive. At the same time, power demand lagged as companies generated their own and the economy slowed. And Eskom was put in charge of an expensive nuclear-construction programme championed by Zuma. As a result, renewable-energy financing dropped to a trickle of $4m last year, with more than two dozen projects that were near the point of breaking ground still waiting. The freeze-out risk...

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