Eskom and French funding agency Agence Française de Developpement (AFD) on Monday morning signed a R2.3bn credit facility agreement to finance Eskom’s distribution projects in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
Eskom said the loan would be repaid at “competitive rates” and will finance investments for grid strengthening, refurbishment, reliability improvement, reticulations, split metering and upstream grid reinforcement to cater for renewable energy.
Speaking at the formal signing ceremony of the agreement in Johannesburg, Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane said the investment would strengthen the utility’s distribution network.
French ambassador Elisabeth Barbier said there is a need to strengthen the distribution network, given the connection of more customers to the power grid as the country strives for universal electricity access.
Eskom also signed a financial partnership agreement valued at about R6.8m with French power utility EDF group and AFD. Funding, in the form of a grant, will finance the exchange of knowledge and expertise from EDF in various areas, including renewable energy integration.
Said Eskom CEO Brian Molefe: “The primary objective of the partnership is knowledge, experience and expertise sharing between Eskom and EDF.
“Eskom has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with (AFD) and the agreements further cement this relationship. We look forward to sharing knowledge and good practices with our peer (EDF).”
AFD regional director Martha Stein-Sochas said the agreement would contribute towards the reduction of regional inequalities in electricity access. The provinces KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo have the lowest rates of access to electricity.
Stein-Sochas said the loan would also contribute towards the achievement of universal access to electricity by 2025. At the moment, South Africa’s rate of access is 85%, which means more than three million households do not have access to electricity.