August 6, 2015 Print

Reliable energy is a crucial factor in thriving economies, but South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, has had a chronic inability to meet demand for electricity. Its 2015 reintroduction of rolling blackouts, known as “load shedding,” has both large and small businesses feeling the pinch of the stalled market activity that accompanies regular power outages. On July 27, the new Cape Town chapter of Atlas Network partner African Students for Liberty (ASFL), sponsored by Atlas Network partner Ineng and the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), addressed this issue at its debut launch event with a talk by Andrew Kenny, an expert in electricity and independent energy policy.

Kenny, author of IRR report “The rise and fall of Eskom — and how to fix it now,” spoke about South Africa’s current power crisis, including its history and causes, including corruption and political interference, as well as possible solutions.

Andrew Kenny, an expert in electricity and independent energy policy, speaks at the July 27 debut launch event of the Cape Town chapter of African Students for Liberty.
Andrew Kenny, an expert in electricity and independent energy policy, speaks at the July 27 debut launch event of the Cape Town chapter of African Students for Liberty.

The track record of state-owned Eskom to date may indicate little hope for future reform, but Kenny detailed several practical policy reforms that would “get South Africa back on its feet,” such as allowing an independent power distributor that would operate alongside a de-politicized Eskom. He also remarked on the thousands of ways in which entrepreneurs could help South Africans to deal with the energy crisis through innovative new business ideas.

The recently formed Cape Town chapter of ASFL is headed by student Nicholas Woode-Smith and is based at the University of Cape Town, one of South Africa’s major universities and the highest-ranked university in Africa. The group, which is the second Students for Liberty group to be started in South Africa after a chapter at the University of Pretoria, seeks to advance liberty in South Africa through education, activism, and networking.

Participants in the July 27 event.
Participants in the July 27 event.

View Ineng’s photos from the event.

Read “Fixing Our Energy Crisis.”

Read “The rise and fall of Eskom — and how to fix it now.”