Before answering the question, let me briefly take this opportunity to join the President and the country in congratulating the Springboks. [Applause.] We want to say to them, thank you for bringing the cup home; thank you for unifying us; thank you for lifting our spirits and showing all of us a sense of positivity that we so desire as we tackle all our challenges; and thank you for reminding us that we are still a rainbow nation.
Chair, indeed we acknowledge that our country is currently experiencing enormous energy challenges that have the potential to hinder prospects for new investment and economic growth. However, government has put in place key performance indicators and targets that are outlined in the shareholder compact to ensure that Eskom executes maintenance at its generation, transmission and distribution assets. The shareholder compact is signed by Eskom's board and the Minister of Public Enterprises, and is revised on an annual basis.
The National Development Plan has identified the need for South Africa to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure, designed to support the country's medium and long-term economic and social objectives. Energy infrastructure is therefore a critical
component that underpins our economic activity and growth in our development trajectory. It is however concerning that Eskom's fleet performance has since deteriorated due to the lack of maintenance refurbishment over the years, greatly compromising the security of electricity supply. This situation is also worsened by, among other things, coal shortages and the supply of substandard coal.
With regard to grid reliability, Eskom has a responsibility to conduct maintenance of its grid assets according to published standards that are benchmarked with international best practices. In the course of time there have been weaknesses in terms of adherence to published standards. However, as government we are working very hard to ensure that Eskom and the power utility reverts back to compliance with these published standards.
With an aging power station fleet, we need for planned midlife refurbishment to increase and meet the life expectations of these power plants. Critical areas that need work have been identified and are being funded and resourced to renew the power plants to a more reliable state. Unfortunately, all these shortfalls have resulted in rotational load shedding being implemented earlier this year and during the past three weeks of October.
With regard to the current generation capacity of the coal power stations, we advise that we are standing at the maximum available power of 36 221 megawatts. Under the leadership of the Minister of Public Enterprises, work is currently underway to ensure that interruptions in the performance of coal power stations are minimised to avoid disruptions and load shedding.
Accelerated economic growth, a rising population, and the expansion of human settlements and industrial development zones must be matched by targeted measures on the side of government to cater for energy security needs. Government remains committed to ensuring that Eskom is supported to address persistent sustainability challenges, including unsustainable levels of debt, underinvestment and the inadequate maintenance of plants, resulting in energy supply interruptions.
To this end, Eskom has developed a detailed turnaround plan to address its structural, operational and financial challenges. This entails a clear focus on improving efficiencies, reducing costs, optimising plant performance and enhancing government systems.
In spite of these difficulties ahead, we believe that policy reforms announced by the President in respect of positioning Eskom will put
Eskom on a sustainable recovery path. Government continues to provide the necessary support to Eskom to ensure that prospects of investment, economic growth and job creation are not negatively impacted.
Last week the Minister of Public Enterprises released a new road map on Eskom, outlining government's plans for the future of Eskom. The road map for Eskom proposes a new business model which will provide reliable, affordable, economically competitive and environmentally sustainable electricity that will drive inclusive economic growth. We therefore urge organised labour, business, energy experts and civil society at large to constructively engage the Minister on this proposed road map, to explore lasting solutions.
Alongside efforts to address Eskom's challenges, Cabinet has since approved the Integrated Resource Plan which seeks to diversify our energy mix through the introduction of alternative sources of energy. While coal continues to play a significant role in electricity generation, new investment will need to be channelled to more efficient coal technologies, including the exploration of other sources of energy like nuclear, gas, wind, hydro and energy storage. In the medium to long term, we should be able to see a steady
improvement in the country's ability to supply reliable energy that will support economic growth. Thank you very much. [Applause.]