State-owned power utility Eskom has announced that Bheki Nxumalo has been appointed as its group executive for generation as from July 1, 2019.
Nxumalo takes over the role permanently from Andrew Etzinger, who has been acting in the position for the past nine months.
Nxumalo has more than two decades of experience in the generation business, including having worked as power station manager at both Groovlei and Matimba.
He was also previously project manager at Kusile and, having left Eskom for ACWA Power in 2016, returned as acting CEO of Rotek Industries in 2017.
Nxumalo holds an MBA and is a registered engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa.
He takes on the responsibility ahead of a proposed restructuring of Eskom into three separate businesses of generation, transmission and distribution.
The appointment also follows a period of growth-sapping power cuts, with a total of 769 GWh of power shed during the first quarter, including 595 GWh in March, when the utility resorted to ten consecutive days of load-shedding.
At points, Eskom declared Stage 4 load-shedding, as a result of high levels of planned and unplanned outages across its coal fleet, the loss of imports from Cahora Bassa, in Mozambique, after the deadly Cyclone Idai affected transmission lines carrying power to South Africa, and the depletion of water and diesel resources at its pumped-hydro schemes and open-cycle gas turbines respectively.
The system has since stabilised and Eskom’s winter plan, which was outlined on April 3, envisages that load-shedding can either be avoided or limited to Stage 1, or between 1 000 MW and 2 000 MW, during the high-demand, low-maintenance period.
Nxumalo’s appointment also comes amid ongoing leadership flux at the utility, with many positions occupied by acting executives and with CEO Phakamani Hadebe scheduled to depart the organisation at the end of July, having announced his shock resignation on May 24.
In a statement confirming Nxumalo’s appointment, Hadebe stressed the importance of the generation business in the Eskom portfolio.
Hadebe said Nxumalo’s appointment would strengthen Eskom’s executive structure and provide impetus to its technical plans of achieving operational efficiency. “We welcome the fact that he brings extensive experience, relevant qualifications in the power generation industry and has a good track record in his previous roles at Eskom.”