Koko named acting CEO of South African power utility Eskom

South Africa’s government approved the appointment of Matshela Koko as acting chief executive officer of state power utility Eskom Holding SOC Ltd.

Koko is currently Eskom’s head of generation and his appointment was recommended by its board, which has been instructed to immediately begin the process of permanently filling the post, said Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, who oversees the utility.

“Mr. Koko must ensure that the current trajectory at Eskom continues,” Brown said in an e-mailed statement. “Mr. Koko has a wealth of experience and understands the challenges Eskom faces.”

Molefe announced on Nov. 11 that he was leaving Eskom, following the release of a  report by the graft ombudsman indicating that he may have given preferential treatment to members of the wealthy Gupta family, by awarding coal-supply contracts and helping them buy Optimum Coal Holdings Ltd. Molefe, the Guptas and Eskom all deny wrongdoing.

Koko’s appointment will take effect Dec. 1, a month before Molefe announced that he would leave. Koko, who has worked at Eskom since 1996, has often echoed the views of Molefe, questioning the need for more renewable energy projects from independent producers and backing proposals to build new nuclear power plants.

After a Nov. 22 presentation by the Department of Energy that indicated the country wouldn’t need additional atomic energy until 2037, Koko said Eskom will continue seeking requests for proposals to build new plants because a final plan may ultimately determine that reactors will be needed as soon as 2025.