Newly reappointed Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was scheduled to deliver the conference’s keynote address, but pulled out due to another engagement. It would have been Molefe’s first public appearance since his reinstatement.
Ngubane, who addressed the conference in place of Molefe, held an impromptu media briefing after his address. Here he dismissed claims that he and Molefe had pressurized former mineral resources minister adv. Ngoako Ramatlhodi to help the Guptas take over the Glencore coal mine.
The Eskom chair defended Molefe’s reinstatement as CEO and said Molefe had missed the event because he had been called to parliament. On Molefe’s reinstatement he said: “It is going to be for the good. He is going to carry on where he stopped – making electricity affordable for our people.”
Ngubane explained Eskom’s objective is still to lower the cost of electricity in the country by paying back the government guarantees and creating significant cost savings.
He also shrugged off calls for the Eskom board to be dissolved, stating that the board serves at the behest of those who appoint it.
In his short address Ngubane called African Utility Week a mini World Economic Forum (WEF) for the energy sector.
Playing off the recent WEF theme he said that the energy sector must consider what the fourth industrial revolution means for the continent and how this change can be leveraged to benefit individual economies.
“It is important that the energy industry in Africa explores how new ideas can be born through collaborative networks of state institutions that bring businesses, utilities and countries together.”
Ngubane also told delegates that now is an opportune time to invest in the region in ways that ensure mutual benefits.