Intellidex was founded in 2008 as an independent research company focused on financial services and capital markets. We support a worldwide client base ranging from institutional investors to banks.

We are looking to strengthen this core function of our business by hiring a financial analyst to work specifically on banks in South Africa, as part of a dynamic research and consulting team.

The right candidate will have a background as a sellside or buyside equity analyst or in financial research on banks for a consulting firm. They must be comfortable with indepth financial analysis of banks, generating revenue forecasts as well as narrative reports interrogating strategy.

This is a senior-level position with opportunity to grow into leadership in either research or consulting. The right candidate will be expected to become a recognised thought leader in South Africa on the banking sector.

The position will involve ongoing analysis of bank financial and market share performance including developing earnings models and forecasts. Outputs would be both routine reports on bank performance and research support for project work. This will include monthly reports on key issues arising in the sector. There is room for creative research on non-financial drivers of bank performance too, as well as input into financial sector policy development. You will also be expected to support business development, building your contact network in the sector and products that deliver to market demand.

Clients include investors with an interest in bank debt and equity exposures, and financial services clients in supporting strategy development alongside our strategy consulting function and our macro-political advisory business. The role is collaborative, working closely with our fixed income, equity and strategy research analysts.

The ideal candidate will have:

Intellidex is well-recognised for quality research and you will become a core part of a highly skilled team, providing significant learning opportunities to advance your career.

We have offices in Sandton, where this position will be based, London and Boston.

We offer an entrepreneurial environment in which you will have considerable latitude to shape your role. Remuneration will be a mixture of basic (in the senior researcher range) and performance-based pay (which would show recognition for business development too).

Our standards are high. You will be working with MBAs, CFA charterholders and PhDs on our team to ensure that Intellidex delivers high levels of client satisfaction and responds dynamically to new business opportunities.

If you are interested in the position, please complete the form below, including a covering letter in which you show your experience meets the requirements listed above. There is no deadline for applications, but the role will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified.

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There is always a roadblock ahead — events that get in the way of longer-term thinking.

The cabinet reshuffle in the short term is one such event; so, too, perhaps succession dramas in many senior leadership positions at Eskom this year. Both are important. Some of us have been talking about the need for change at the department of mineral resources & energy for almost five years.

The selection of a new Eskom CEO is likely to drag beyond end-March, given that no-one decent and in their right mind would take the job. The Venn diagram of supply and demand for CEOs of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) doesn’t ever seem to intersect well.

We will then have the distraction of the 2024 election. The problem with any elections (even internal party ones) is that the entire structure of government seems to shut down at least six months beforehand, reinforcing the vacuum of long-term thinking. Yet serious longer-term thinking is required to solve SA’s intractable problems.

The hole in teacher numbers will grow in the next five years as the current batch — many of them in rural and poorer areas — start retiring at a faster pace, given demographics. Little is being done despite the issue being well flagged. Due to the three- to four-year training cycle for teachers, investment needs to be made now with no immediate payoff.

The problem, unlike in logistics and energy, is that because the brewing crisis has limited impact on headline economic numbers for many years as productivity dips, the short-term political imperative to deal with children who have little sway in the political economy is limited.

Mindset changes

The load-shedding crisis is too often seen as a short-term set of political, rent-extraction and strategic discussions within the political economy as opposed to a long-term set of technological and environmental challenges that require new thinking and new mindsets. Eskom, now launching access for the private sector to its internal market and price setting for peaking power, is one example of this mindset change.

In bringing forward the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, which will come from the cabinet perhaps in about the next week, the national energy crisis committee similarly embeds mindset changes in how the sector functions with a forward-looking market. However, this kind of thinking is not taken up by the department of mineral resources & energy, or indeed the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), which remains very much stuck in the present.

Planning for the long term to avoid crises often seems to lose steam precisely because they are a long way off. Eskom’s Transmission Development Plan has been screaming about underinvestment and the problems that result from transmission blockages on the horizon.

Even a short-run project to strengthen transmission with new transformers can take two years. Crucial long-distance, high-voltage line projects can take well over six years — and insufficient resources and money are being allocated. The government is blocking the private sector from entering this investment space.

A longer-term hole is opening up between 2025 and 2028 of greater and longer load-shedding because of underinvestment in transmission now. People are half aware of the issue but not really in any sense of bias to action, especially in some parts of the government. No-one in the department of mineral resources & energy or the department of public enterprises seems to take transmission seriously. Meanwhile Eskom funding constraints, reinforced by the need to scrape other budgets for diesel this year and again next year, all affect transmission.

Vested interests

A renewables-led system of the future will require not just short-term gas backup but also interseasonal storage through pumped hydro. A number of potential projects are in the development phase with Eskom’s interest, but there is little push on these projects, which might take 10 years to complete.

Sometimes perverse things happen around long-term thinking. However, the interest in new coal, even if bankable and insurable (which is impossible), wouldn’t deliver electricity for perhaps 10 years. This shows how vested interests and rent-extraction possibilities can suddenly make people interested in longer-term thinking for all the wrong reasons while glossing over practicalities.

Such passions are not aroused for transmission, pumped storage or teacher training.

Similarly, logistics is an immediate crisis in which some of the right thinking is now coming in with concessioning of parts of Durban port. Yet those plans are arguably only fit for purpose for current traffic in a growth-constrained economy, not the port demands that might be needed in 20-30 years, assuming a faster-growing, dynamic, emerging market once structural reforms are undertaken (suspend your disbelief for a moment please!)

Positive reforms that have started from Operation Vulindlela on logistics have this longer-term lens in mind, though the ministry and department of transport have lacked such a longer-term perspective until now. The opportunity to remedy this in the cabinet reshuffle is interesting.

The current failure of the infrastructure drive in government (student housing really doesn’t count) is unfortunate, with lessons not learnt on bankability, and a flurry of PR rather than hard work. This could have been an opportunity if it found its feet to inculcate longer-term thinking, planning, financing and execution into government at all levels. In particular, a conversation about long-term climate-resilient infrastructure planning has barely started even after last year’s floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

Still, these problems are hardly unique to SA. All economies suffer from short-termism and constrained thinking within election cycles. Perhaps it is just that other countries are not peering over the cliff’s edge in quite the same way.

• Attard Montalto leads on political economy, markets and the just energy transition at Intellidex, an SA research-led consulting company. This article first appeared in Business Day.

Allow me for a moment to fall into the trap that has been laid. The campaign against coal exports from SA is the biggest load of nonsense to hit the social media airwaves since the Gupta-driven campaign against banks.

According to various tweeters, the load-shedding crisis has something to do with exports of coal from SA. Somehow, nefarious businesses are diverting coal from Eskom’s boilers to Europe, thereby leaving power stations stricken. This beggaring of SA again by the Europeans, according to this narrative, calls for violent intervention such as disrupting coal transport to Richards Bay.

What drivel.

Let’s start with facts. SA has always exported a lot of coal. It is a big source of foreign earnings and enables many mines to exist. About 30% of the tonnes mined in SA are exported.

Eskom generally has positioned its power stations next to coal mines and has contracts with them to supply their coal needs (there are exceptions — Majuba most obviously, which has about 700 trucks of coal arrive every day). Those power stations are built to consume qualities of coal with specific thermic features.

Most mines also produce coal that Eskom cannot burn which has a higher calorific value, and this output is generally exported. This is essential to the economics of the mines: the export-quality coal provides revenue, allowing Eskom to benefit from lower-cost coal that meets the specifications of its power stations. Of course, it is also important to note that many of these power stations have been unable to consume the supply that is contracted to them because of failures of the power stations.

It is true that much more SA coal has been finding its way to Europe. The Europeans are doing everything possible to reduce exposure to Russia, from which it used to import a lot of coal. SA is a beneficiary of this displacement. By reports in 2022, coal exports to Europe were up six-fold. That sounds dramatic but hold your horses.

The fact is that overall, coal exports have been static to declining at between 80-million tonnes and 90-million tonnes a year for a long time. Overall, in 2022, SA exported less coal than it did for several years before Covid-19, though that was a recovery from 2021, when total coal exports were the lowest in 25 years.

That is because there is a big bottleneck on the amount that can be exported — capacity at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal and the rail to get it there. There has been growth of exports via Mozambique and the Durban port, but that capacity is a fraction of Richards Bay. In fact, the growth of exports of coal to Europe has come at the expense of other destinations — India particularly, which remains by far the biggest export destination for SA coal, about three times the volumes going to Europe.

Why did coal exports fall dramatically in 2021? In a word, Transnet. Coal export lines faced sabotage, extortion, cable theft, maintenance failures and assorted other ills. So, while the global coal price has been surging, SA’s export volumes have been flat to negative. International prices this year have breached $400/tonne compared with the $50-$100/tonne range they traded in for the decade until 2021. The fact is that SA should be taking advantage of these record prices and exporting far more. It would be a big windfall for the country.

I opened this column describing it as a trap because the coal export narrative should be starved of the oxygen of publicity. It is without foundation. But what is it that those who are pushing the story hope to gain?

Well, one big concern facing the whole country is the performance of Transnet. Indeed, as is now well known, the Minerals Council was so concerned in 2022 it wrote to the board of Transnet calling for a wholesale change of management of the parastatal. Transnet’s own annual report for 2021 reports on the serious challenges it has faced on its coal lines, which account for 35% of its freight volumes, bemoaning security and locomotive availability. The Minerals Council described the collapsing services of Transnet as an “existential crisis” for the mining sector.

The coal exports narrative has arisen just as attention turns to Transnet’s operational collapse. Could this be an attempt at diversion? Do those pushing the narrative imagine that if export volumes fall thanks to Transnet’s failures, the country will somehow come to think this is a good thing? “Exports have been restrained, our campaign has been successful!” Perhaps they hope this narrative will divert attention from the real cause, being the failure of Transnet.

Of course, the other possible driver of the narrative is the extortion racket that is bedevilling the supply line. Organised crime gangs are targeting coal producers for protection money. Thanks to better industry security arrangements with Transnet, the Richards Bay line is being better policed with drones and other technology. The call for mass violence on the line may be a lashing out of those who are finding it harder to squeeze producers.

None of this should distract us. We must be sharply focused on Transnet and its performance — it is a serious risk to our whole economy.

• Theobald is chairperson of research-led consulting house Intellidex. This article first appeared in Business Day.

December seems to have created an odd funnelling for many interesting shifts in the rhetoric about energy and much else in the political economy.

As much as commentators might like to despair of the ANC, its events, like its elective conference, do indeed seem to have a strong catalytic effect on the national conversation.

Various forces within the political economy with vested interests come together — or perhaps rise from an otherwise slumberous state to actually trying to influence the national conversation.

As such ideas seem to take hold despite the thinnest of logic or even no facts at all. Whether it is the suggestion that the Reserve Bank can somehow lower unemployment itself through having a jobs target (rather than the deep underlying structural issues that hold back employment growth), or  the idea that somehow a few choices about maintenance and unlocking a mysterious 20GW of easily available capacity that Eskom has apparently squirrelled away — and load-shedding can easily be solved in 6-12 months.

There are no new solutions for SA to solve any of its problems in 2023. This is why noisy and “wrong” rhetoric is so problematic, but its really a zero-sum game as the dial swings back and forward. What progress it felt that was slowly being made in 2022 feels more muddied and further away thanks to the shifts in rhetoric. The media doesn’t help in this regard perhaps — and investors are picking up on this vibe.

There is a sort of lazy complacency in many parts — among all stakeholders — that the known, static solutions just need to have the go button pressed and all will be fine. There is perhaps a complacency (mixed with despair) that while things are worsening — amid an increasingly justified, emotional and visceral reaction of South Africans to the problems faced (load-shedding and water issues in particular) — a solution is close by.

One problem to watch out for in 2023 then is that while progress is made on a range of fronts on rolling out solutions to various crises, we are already two steps behind where we need to be to actually solve problems.

Continually reassess

The crisis energy plan was announced six months ago — during which time Eskom’s fleet has degraded further (naturally with age and deliberately with an acceleration of sabotage). Transnet continues its downward spiral operationally and financially while the state of municipal collapse in many areas continues, with not just service delivery but infrastructure problems resulting.

We thus need to continually reassess whether the goals of ending load-shedding, a well-functioning end-to-end logistics system and a well-functioning water system are on course.

The failure at end-2022 of the REIPPP bid window 6 means plans are now 3GW down on where we otherwise should be, with bid window 7 also looking deeply problematic. Substantively ending load-shedding at end-2024 that last year looked possible, if hard, is now impossible. So plans need to shift and adapt.

The bid window 6 debacle further highlights that we are not paying enough attention to transmission, and that the R72bn of transmission investment needed in the next five years is nowhere near likely to be achieved. This creates a hole in the ability to get enough energy on grid in 2024-2027,  — again pushing out the end of load-shedding further.

There is deep complacency in the view that extra maintenance is all that is needed — with no understanding or solution to where the money for this will come or what would be done about increasing the levels of load-shedding for two years to take plants off to maintain — or indeed of Eskom having said it wants to target six stations for maintenance but most of the rest are beyond repair as costs and time outweigh results.

Other gems in recent weeks include one minister questioning why Eskom “accepts bad coal” — as if the management wasn’t aware and wasn’t trying to do something about it but are stymied by organised mafia, assassination attempts and a lack of real security cluster support (not a few soldiers deployed who have no ability to do anything).

Rooftop solar

The other question for South Africans is where all the gatvol reaction to load-shedding and other crises will get you. Here my fear is we reach a second-best outcome in which everyone that can afford it goes (effectively) off-grid — the famous demand tipping point with higher tariffs will be very much in action — and then a complacency sets in as people can, just about, go about their everyday lives. The widening inequality that results is just seen as more of the same.

In some sense we see this already with more than 1GW of new, almost all unregistered, household rooftop solar installed in the past year. Borehole companies report being the busiest yet. The effect of load-shedding on growth in 2022 has been less than feared given adaptation to crises, though underlying unemployment and inequality crises have become worse not better.

These small solutions can drive a minimal kind of survivability for some households and businesses but perhaps risk distracting from a wider breaking point that might otherwise occur within the political economy that is needed to ease the path of the systemic solutions so desperately needed.

Perhaps the tough-love message needed at the start of the year is that the end to myriad crises is not close at hand and that things will get worse before they get better — they will probably have to, before larger change in the political economy occurs to allow reforms to catch up with where they need to be. Indeed even getting a lot of things right this year — and if momentum for reforms can be wrestled back from some of the forces of noisy madness — would not cause the systemic end to these crises either.

Herein is the challenge to the Davos “sale pitch” message to look through current crises. Investors can and do but they aren’t complacent. The period through which you can look through crises cannot be too long — and in some respects it is getting longer.

This year will be successful amid a strong sense that this period of crises investors have to look through is getting shorter, and more credible — rather than longer.

 Attard Montalto leads on political economy, markets and the just energy transition at Intellidex, an SA research-led consulting company. This article first appeared in Business Day.

Head of capital markets Peter Attard Montalto joins eNCA once again this time to speak on loadshedding and how the failure of Bid window 6 set South Africa back in terms of energy production.

“We are in the middle of January and there is still about another 700MW or so of extra demand coming in so its basically roughly an extra stage of demands coming in as the economy gets back going from Christmas. We have done some loadshedding forecasting through this year based on normal cycles of demand and current levels of outages and you reach up to stage 7 in July, you have a long period of stage 6 now through much of February as well”, says Peter Attard Montalto.

Watch the interview below.

Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets at Intellidex, joined eNCA to discuss Eskom’s stage 6 power cuts and the skills shortage at South Africa’s parastatals.

“Well, there is a huge need for skills at a station management and one or two levels below within Eskom where there has been a huge flight of skills. People have left to move overseas particularly moving to power systems in Asia and elsewhere. But there is a real tension here around hiring these skills. Eskom of course at net is trying to offload employees more in central office functions. The removal of the headcount is also probably going to be a condition to get bailout that comes in the budget in February,” says Peter Attard Montalto.

Watch the interview below to hear what Peter has to say.

Head of capital markets Peter Attard Montalto joins CNBC Africa‘s The Power Table to discuss a possible cabinet reshuffle following the ANC elective conference.

“Really, we are focusing on the DMRE. The ministry needs to be split we need to see, not someone who is a mad pro-renewables person but someone that can have a sensible and balanced view and can get a bit excited about renewables and even gas, right? You know there is a gas development bill that is languishing there despite people wanting to do offshore development. It’s not just about renewables, it is about having enthusiasm as a whole that investors are looking for and I might add just a similar thing in DCIC as well, potentially. So that is really what we are looking for and looking at in the cabinet reshuffle,” says Peter Attard Montalto.

Watch the discussion below.

Intellidex is a leading emerging markets research and consulting house that is rapidly expanding. We are looking to hire a senior researcher to support our work on macroeconomic and structural reform-related policy research and advisory in South Africa.  

Intellidex’s Capital Markets and Political Economy practice provides ahead-of-the-market insights and advice to a range of offshore and onshore investors, local and foreign corporate c-suite and banks on South Africa’s opportunities and risks from a macroeconomic, reform and political perspective. It also works with policy makers and organised business to advance structural reforms in South Africa across a broad sweep of policy areas including energy, logistics, SOEs and infrastructure that compliment financial sector reform and innovation work, as well as our institutional client service elsewhere in the business. The group works particularly with issues at the complex intersection of politics, policy and funding.  

The right candidate will be fluent in these issues and will be given extensive exposure to senior decision makers in both the public and private sectors – offshore and onshore. You will also build a public profile over time. You will work across a large range of different complex research issues for a broad range of client types and delivery styles.  

You will take day-to-day responsibility for client delivery of highly regarded and widely read regular periodical research products (covering macro, political and structural reform policy related issues), ad hoc (often real-time/intraday) research requests from subscription clients and short- and long-term project work for clients – all under direction of the line Managing Director. 

There will be an opportunity to work on similar issues in other jurisdictions on the continent as our business increasingly expands there in the coming years though this will not be a focus to start with. The expertise you have – and build – in this role will allow you to be exposed to and contribute to a broad range of projects across the rest of the firm including with bank strategy, capital market development and social economy work.  

You will be expected to support your line Managing Director in the process of sales, onboarding clients and then project management and delivery. As a senior member of the team you will be expected to undertake some business development work of your own initiative, drawing on your own existing networks and develop such networks over time. 

The pay package for this role will be appropriate to attract someone with the background and experience outlined below. This will include base pay, benefits and bonus schemes.  

Essential requirements are (do not apply if you do not meet these requirements as your application will not be considered): 

Preferred requirements are: 

Intellidex offers a unique environment that draws together top academic skills, financial markets research and insight on South Africa’s financial sector, and increasingly other emerging markets. We work with investors, financial institutions and domestic and international policymakers to improve outcomes for South Africans and other emerging and frontier markets. Intellidex is widely recognised for high quality research and you will become a core, senior, part of a highly skilled team, providing significant learning opportunities to advance your career.  

We have offices in Sandton, where this position will be based (though we will consider Cape Town as a location), London and Boston. The position will report to the Managing Director leading political economy, capital markets and just energy transition work for the firm. 

We offer a small company environment in which you will have considerable latitude to step up and show your value. Our standards are high. You will be working with MBAs, CFA charterholders and PhDs on our team to ensure that Intellidex delivers high levels of client satisfaction and responds dynamically to new business opportunities. 

If you are interested in the position, please send a covering letter in which you address the requirements listed above, and CV, using the form below. You will need to submit examples of written work later in the process if progressed. 

Please apply before 20 March 2023, though the role will be filled as soon as the right candidate is identified. We are looking for the successful application to start as soon as possible. 

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Intellidex’s head of capital markets Peter Attard Montalto joins 702‘s The Money Show to weigh in on the outlook for South Africa’s economy in 2023 from a global and local perspective.

“The impact on the economy is certainly a lot less than we thought it was or would have been a year ago. The challenge this year we’re forecasting up to stage 7 loadshedding in July on average, peak might be higher with Stage 6 in February. But the economic impact is less than we would have said a year ago because there’s been so much adaptation, there has probably been 1.2GW of rooftop solar, unregistered rooftop solar we saw in South Africa in the last year.

Listen to the full clip below.

Intellidex chairman Dr Stuart Theobald joins Kaya 959, alongside Tumisang Ndlovu, to discuss South Africa’s progress with avoiding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list. Audiences have followed the topic eagerly as a SA delegation prepares to meet the FAFT in Morocco, later this week.

“This is a step we always knew was coming, it is part of the process that leads up to that plenary that is going to happen in February in which the all-important decision will be made. So, we have been through an engagement, national treasury submitted detailed reports to FAFT on the progress we have made across government in adopting recommendations from FATF. That report went out in the last quarter of last year and it led to a series of written questions from FATF to which national treasury prepared an extensive response. It now has the next step of this face-to-face engagement that is going to happen in Morocco where a big delegation of South African government and regulators are going to engage with FAFT in order to argue the case that South Africa has done what’s needed to satisfy the money laundering watch dog.”

Listen to the discussion below:

For more on greylisting, read the Intellidex report Sword of Damocles: South Africa’s FATF Grey Listing commissioned by Business Leadership South Africa.

As I sat over Christmas waiting for electricity to boil a kettle, the grinch in me knew that load-shedding is bad and going to get worse.

Three months ago I was ready to bet that we would see the end of load-shedding by late 2024, but the failure of bid window 6 of the renewable energy independent power producers’ programme (REIPPP) late in 2022 has thrown the outlook for energy security into disarray.

We were set to be adding 6GW-7GW of new capacity each year for several years, expanding at roughly 20% of present production per year. That was going to be achieved with utility scale procurement through REIPPP and capacity creation by the private sector — from roof top solar to large-scale generating facilities by mines and other large energy consumers. Eskom was also coming to the party by leasing land in Mpumalanga for private operators to build new capacity.

Bid window 6 was going to be the largest energy procurement round yet. Faced with the escalating crisis, minister Gwede Mantashe doubled the procurement target to 5.2GW. This move triggered excitement, indicating that the government might be ready to do what it takes to accelerate the construction of large-scale energy production. In October 56 projects bid to produce electricity in the round, with a combined capacity of 9.6GW. So far, so good.

But when the REIPPP results were announced, only five bidders were chosen, producing a total 860MW. That is about 17% of the full 5.2GW. There has been far too little outcry about this result. It is a disaster.

The reason for the huge shortfall is that Eskom says it is cannot provide grid capacity to link more of the projects to the national grid. This was a slap in the face.

Only in March, Eskom had published its Generation Connection Capacity Assessment out to 2024. The REIPPP bidders had made their submissions with an eye on Eskom’s forecasts. That had shown there was capacity in areas with suitable wind and solar conditions, including the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Free State. The only no-go area in assessment was the Northern Cape, swamped by previous REIPPP projects.

What then happened has been difficult to fully understand. The approved projects are all in the North West and Free State (Eskom had indicated capacity of 4.1GW in the Free State and 3.5GW in the North West). These are all solar projects. The wind bids were in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape and none were successful. Eskom had indicated that these two provinces had thin grid capacity of 1.8GW and 1.6GW respectively.

Eskom says that its capacity forecast has been used up by private sector off-taker projects. These are new generation projects by large industrial users. Somehow, between Eskom’s grid forecasts, and the REIPPP bids, Eskom signed agreements with private- sector operators that swamped its capacity in two critical provinces.

A lot of questions should be asked here. How does Eskom prioritise who to sign grid access agreements with? What transparency surrounds these decisions? How could the whole country have been caught by surprise by the REIPPP outcome?

Grid capacity still exists — there is a lot in Mpumalanga, for instance (6.5GW). The grid is coal centric by design and most capacity is near that resource. Unfortunately, Mpumalanga provides weak wind and solar resources so there is a big mismatch. Nevertheless, Eskom is moving ahead to create renewable production in the province, on the view that higher generating costs are compensated by low grid costs. There also appears to still be capacity in KwaZulu-Natal, the northeast of which has reasonable wind conditions. Future REIPPP bidders can look at these areas and locate projects where Eskom capacity is available. It will become difficult and expensive to do, however.

The grid capacity conversation now becomes central to SA’s energy outlook. The country’s solar resources are substantially in the Northern Cape, while the wind blows best in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

The grid needs to be reoriented from its Mpumalanga focus to these regions. However, grid capacity projects are expensive. International prices have high voltage lines at about R20m per kilometre, but the associated distribution infrastructure and substations add significantly.

Connecting Upington to Johannesburg over 800km would cost R16bn for the lines alone. A project requires expropriation of land, and complex system engineering challenges that can take years to resolve. In short, creating generating capacity is much easier than the grid to absorb it.

Eskom maintains a Transmission Development Plan it updates at least every five years. The last one in 2022 envisaged investment of R72.2bn for 2,890km of high voltage lines and 60 new transformers over the next five years. But this ambition clashes with Eskom’s huge debt levels and challenges in financing new capital investment.

To restore optimism, we need a serious and credible plan for the grid. It needs to ensure we can tap the abundant renewable resources across the country. It needs a proper financial plan that overcomes Eskom’s constraints. This must be our priority for the year ahead.

• Theobald is chairperson of research-led consulting house Intellidex. This article first appeared in Business Day.