Eskom has withdrawn its participation at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2015 event in Switzerland following public criticism of plans to send an Eskom delegation to Davos while the power utility addresses critical local issues.
Eskom is currently downsizing its staff compliments as part of an intense effort to lower costs and boost savings, while South Africa is facing scheduled load shedding as power utility is running out of money for diesel to generate emergency power.
“We have taken note of the public concern and have withdrawn our participation accordingly,” the company said in a statement, adding that “Eskom is a global business and its long-term sustainability is as important as the immediate term issues it is facing. Eskom leaders have to take care of both immediate and long-term aspects of the business.
“Engaging with global leaders, energy experts, investors, funders, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and maintaining an international profile is part of ensuring this long-term sustainability. It is for this reason that Eskom has a long-standing relationship with the WEF. The WEF’s assistance in forging partnerships in areas as diverse as climate change, anti-corruption, universal energy access, innovation and funding has been invaluable. This has been particularly relevant in recent years when Eskom faced major financial challenges, and Davos has provided an excellent platform for presenting a balanced view to future investors in Eskom and South Africa.”
Eskom added that chairman Zola Tsotsi and the group executive for sustainability Steve Lennon, who were originally confirmed to go, have international profiles and are regarded as international experts in their fields.
“Their engagement in international fora does not minimize the importance of the current challenges that Eskom is confronted with. If anything, the knowledge they return with has proven very useful in informing alternative approaches to problem-solving which is of benefit to Eskom. After all, Mr Matona and the rest of the executive team were not going to attend the Davos meeting and as such are on the ground on a daily basis dealing with Eskom’s current situation,” the company said.
“Eskom reviews its participation at the World Economic Forum and other relevant global events on an annual basis and makes a determination based on business priorities, and the need to remain relevant and up to date in both the national and international context.”