Eskom reports far higher half-year profit


South African power company Eskom made a R9.2 billion ($569.4 million) net profit in the six months to the end of September, far higher than the R0.2 billion in the year earlier period, suggesting turnaround efforts are starting to bear fruit.

State-owned Eskom typically performs much better in the first half of its financial year because of higher tariffs and sales in the southern hemisphere winter.

The company said at a news conference on Wednesday that it forecast a net loss in the year to the end of March 2022 of R9.1 billion, more than halving an R18.9 billion loss the previous year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has been trying to restore Eskom to profitability and improve performance at its ailing coal-fired power stations, after more than a decade of electricity cuts that have held back economic growth.

Under CEO Andre de Ruyter, Eskom plans to gradually pivot away from coal and embrace cleaner energy sources.

Eskom also said its gross debt had fallen 15% from September 2020 to R392 billion, but that it was expected to rise to R416 billion by March 2022 because of funding postponed from the prior year. Government financial support of R21.9 billion and R21 billion is committed for 2023 and 2024, a presentation showed.