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While the $2.5-billion (about R33-billion) loan that electricity producer Eskom secured from the China Development Bank this week will go a long way towards helping the utility complete its programme of building power stations and other infrastructure, it has also added to its bulging debt bundle. The power stations will add 9600MW to take Eskom's total installed capacity to more than 50000MW when the plants are completed in 2023. When the build programme started in 2007, Eskom had installed capacity of 40000MW. Two generating units are already contributing to the system at Kusile, which is just outside Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, while five units at Medupi near Lephalale in Limpopo have also been connected to Eskom's network. The amount of debt poses a serious and real risk, not only to the financial sustainability of Eskom but also to the whole South African banking system, as the utility is the single largest borrower behind the sovereign. This week Eskom said its profit before int...

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