Eskom is by far the largest of SA’s many state-owned companies. This near monopoly power utility is in crisis. It is the single-largest threat to SA’s economy, according to a former minister of finance. The Conversation Africa spoke to Adjunct Prof Rod Crompton about why this is the case and what can be done. How is power generated and distributed in SA? Rod Crompton: Electricity markets in most countries consist of three parts: generation, transmission and distribution. Most electricity is generated by using heat to boil water to create steam, which in turn spins a turbine that generates electricity. SA’s cheap and abundant coal resources made coal generated electricity an obvious choice for many years. Initially, power stations were owned by municipalities and large mining and industrial concerns. But as the costs of recapitalisation emerged, government was persuaded to take over responsibility for power. Eskom is among the biggest power utilities in the world, famous for its abil...

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