President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a new plan for the country’s beleaguered state-owned power utility, Eskom. During his state of the nation address on February 7, Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be unbundled into “three separate entities — generation, transmission and distribution”. These would all be established “under Eskom Holdings”. This announcement has been a long time coming. It was first proposed and formalised 20 years ago in the country’s 1998 white paper on energy policy. Among other things, the policy sought to break Eskom into distinct smaller entities. Ramaphosa’s speech was the seventh state of the nation address in which a president committed to structural reforms in the electricity sector. Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma made similar promises. Given that they never followed through, Ramaphosa’s announcement may sound all too familiar — and hollow — to some. But we believe the unbundling will have far-reaching consequences for SA’s energy secto...

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