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By Ntando Thukwana

Moneyweb: Senior Financial Journalist

Not even Elon Musk could fix Eskom – Is De Ruyter leaving the world’s worst job?

Load shedding can be fixed in 6 months, if big power users rapidly take up solar energy, says Michael Jordaan.

Load shedding can be fixed in 6 months, if big power users rapidly take up solar energy, says Michael Jordaan.

Even if Tesla’s Elon Musk took up the reins at embattled state power utility Eskom, he would not be successful in fixing the country’s electricity supply crisis, co-founder of Bank Zero, Michael Jordaan said.

No saviour for Eskom

Anyone who would raise their hand for the top job at Eskom, which will be vacant from 31 March, with CEO André de Ruyter currently serving his notice period, would be “crazy”, he said, adding that fixing the problems at Eskom would be a tough task even for Musk, who is South African-born and founded Tesla and SpaceX.

“If that’s not the case, you could put Elon Musk there, he won’t succeed.”

De Ruyter resigned in December, citing a lack of support from “the broader political sphere”. During his three-year tenure, he faced detractors such as the Black Business Council and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa).

Jordaan, a venture capitalist and co-founder of Bank Zero, was speaking about the future of digital banking and telecoms in SA in a Think Big series talk hosted by PSG Konsult on Tuesday.

Possible solutions for Eskom

On the topic of South Africa’s load shedding crisis, he said that if the country’s biggest energy users rapidly took up solar solutions “we could have better times in six months… [and] not because of government”.

“There is a market solution available for some of the very big power users, and as they then take the demand off the grid, that improves the grid for the people who cannot afford [solar]. It really is a solution that is at our disposal.”

He also commented on South Africa’s banking system and its neglect of small businesses, saying South Africa’s banking system can do more to support and widen bank financing to small and medium enterprises, which are considered drivers of much-needed economic growth and employment creation.

ALSO READ: 10 tips to help your small business survive rising electricity costs

Jordaan, who led FNB, South Africa’s oldest bank for 10 years, challenged the banking sector to lend more money to small businesses in order to get them to contribute to the country’s economic growth.

“I do believe South Africa’s banking system is sophisticated … but more can be done. What I wish I had done more of [while at FNB] was lending more money to the SME sector.”

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Jordaan said that while South Africa’s banks are adequately capitalised considering the risks of operating in an emerging market, they generally have their focus on other forms of lending such as home loans, vehicle financing and credit cards.

“Businesses are the ones that really get the economy going; make it easier for small businesses… that would be my single challenge for the South African bank sector,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and was republished with permission.
Read the original article here.

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