Eskom plants due to reopen after protests
South Africa's power utility Eskom has announced it is likely to restart construction next week at its Medupi and Kusile power plants after protests forced them to shut down.
Eskom halted work on both construction sites as a precautionary measure following violent protests by contract workers shut as a precautionary measure.
"We want assurances of good conduct and that the sites will be safe before we reopen them, but we are hoping by early next week," said spokeswoman Hilary Joffe.
The utility said earlier this week that the disputes were unlikely to impact the plants' building schedule.
The plants, the utility’s first two power stations in more than 20 years, will provide a welcome boost to South Africa’s power output which suffered a crisis in 2008 when a shortage shut the key mining sector for days and cost the economy billions.
READ MORE FROM THE WDM CONTENT NETWORK:
To read the latest edition of African Business Review, click here.
The protest at Kusile began out of sympathy for when workers at one of the firms which was nearing the end of its contract and closing down, while at Medupi workers protested against the hiring of foreigners as welders.
A spokesman for Kusile Civil Works, a joint venture of contractors at Kusile, said meetings with workers and the companies were ongoing.
Johannes Musel, Chief Executive Officer at Hitachi Power Africa, one of the contractors at Medupi also said he hoped that a series of meetings would resolve the situation with a decision on the reopening of the site to be taken on Monday.
"Obviously the project has lost that time. We are committed to getting the support of the workers so that lost time can be made up as quickly as possible," he said.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.