/ 22 July 2014

Sweeping changes: Meet Eskom’s new broom, Mike Rossouw

Mike Rossouw is expected to introduce some much needed realism at Eskom
Mike Rossouw is expected to introduce some much needed realism at Eskom

Former chairperson of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) Mike Rossouw has a new job at Eskom, answering to the utility’s acting chief executive Collin Matjila.  

The utility is facing challenging times. Questions loom over its long-term financial sustainability, while it battles to keep the lights on and simultaneously complete the strife-ridden construction of its new power stations Medupi and Kusile.   

It is understood that Eskom’s board and Matjila approached Rossouw, to bring an independent pair of eyes to the organisation. The news, which the Mail & Guardian has verified, was first broken by EE Publisher’s Chris Yelland and indicated that Rossouw will be tasked with “accelerating the recovery of Eskom’s generation fleet capacity and reliability”. 

Rossouw who chaired the EIUG until January this year, was most recently executive director for power at engineering consultancy Hatch Goba. To ensure complete independence, Rossouw has resigned from Hatch and is contracted to Eskom full time, for a period of at least a year. 

Rossouw, who according to his Linked-In profile started in June as “energy thought leader” at Eskom, will report directly to Matjila. His main objective is understood to be improving the performance of Eskom’s existing fleet, as well as to examine Eskom’s operating model in as far as it impacts on generation. 

Customer-centric perspective
Rossouw’s former colleagues at the EIUG, have welcomed the move. “We welcome any additional technical expertise that Eskom introduces to the organisation,” said Sean Nel spokesperson for the group. Rossouw would bring a customer-centric perspective to the organisation, said Nel. He also had good credentials in working with all stakeholders including government, Eskom and business to try and address the current electricity crisis.  

As an external appointment, Rossouw did not carry “organisational baggage” argued Nel, which would allow him to introduce much needed realism at Eskom.  

Rossouw has an existing relationship with Matjila, having worked with him when he was an independent director at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, and Matjila its chair. It remains to be seen however whether Rossouw will stay on in the new role, once Eskom appoints a permanent chief executive.  

Matjila, has been in an acting position since the resignation of Brian Dames, who left in March this year. 

At the utility’s recent financial results the new minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown said she hoped to resolve the issue of appointing a new chief executive by the end of August. But another industry insider, who did not want to be quoted, questioned Rossouw’s new role due to his lack of expertise working within a power utility. 

Eskom did not respond to requests for comment.