All in all, the historiography of Escom/Eskom reveals much of the same with a few varying departures. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1922. Our engineering programme allies courses in the following fields : chemistry; engineering (including chemical and process engineering) human sciences (social and economic sciences, languages ) business awareness and internationalization At the end of the engineering programme, ESCOM offers 12 majors in 6 different sector orientations : State University of New York Press: Albany, 1984. To do this, it will be utilising a school of economics often ignored by economic historians – the Austrian school of economics. ESCOM also allows students to earn their engineering degree through apprenticeship. There is no point marketing as a monopoly. Eskom. As a lesson, this paper hopes to reveal the solution to Eskom’s current plight. The Austrian school will provide a fresh look at a subject which has, relatively, been under threat of an echo chamber. To learn more about career opportunities, Insertion professionnelle, Our campus is located less than one-hour north from Paris and hosts about 650 students, Surrounded by one of the most beautiful forests in France, Compiègne benefits from free. 71 (2010): 19. Hentz (2000) provided a unique analysis of Eskom’s almost privatisation in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, the White Paper didn’t make it into law. … The proposed White Paper of 1998 and planned privatisation led to the government banning Eskom from constructing any new power stations till 2004. Accessed April 5, 2017. local buses and an ideal environment for students to live and study in good conditions. As said earlier, Eskom was blind. Conserve electricity without raising prices. The Commission argues that Escom’s monopoly status allows it to take advantage of economies of scale in order to implement vast electrification and infrastructural development.  This led to them going overcapacity.  Southall, “The ANC, black economic empowerment and state-owned enterprises: a recycling of history?” 203-204. The Electricity Act put forward restrictions on electricity prices forbidding profit.  That would not tie into the National Party’s professed and practiced economic beliefs of economic nationalism – simply, they didn’t believe privatisation worked, so why would they do it for positive gains? Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. As Nancy Clark (1994) argues, Escom was founded with many inherent internal contradictions. This paper analyses the history of Escom/Eskom from its founding to the end of the 20th century, with the aim of establishing the key reasons why Eskom has become a failing parastatal. Sakhela Buhlungu, John Daniel, Roger Southall & Jessica Lutchman (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2007), 203.  Government Gazette, Electricity Act 42 of 1922, Pretoria: Government Printer, 1922, 71. Eskom, despite being a monopoly, actually marketed its electricity to consumers. Kantor (1988) argues convincingly that Eskom should have at least just priced to cover its costs.  Commission of Inquiry into the Supply of Electricity in the Republic of South Africa, Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Supply of Electricity in the Republic of South Africa, Pretoria: Government Printer, , 1-2. Succinctly, Escom’s prices didn’t reflect real world pricing. This became harder as labour prices rose in 1987 in line with the growing power of the trade unions. No matter the intentions of the state or Escom in its pricing, it led to our predicament today. 2017, http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/AustrianSchoolofEconomics.html.  Even while private suppliers were still meant to be the primary suppliers, the annual report does discuss calls for government power stations near mines. Electricity is a crucial resource of commerce. Eskom’s pricing policy and monopoly position prevent it from reaping the fruits of being a business. In line with GEAR policies to manage the national debt, Eskom faced potential privatisation. Its prices, above all, show a failure to follow kindergarten level common sense. Rather, it should have acted like a monopoly.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1985, , 6.  This paper disagrees with that assertion. What this saw was vast restructuring of South Africa’s bloated public sector, with new political appointments across the board to ensure the loyalty of the enterprises to the new government. Rather, it was the product of close relations between government officials and the mining and railway industries.  But Eskom’s transition to a business-like institution is misguided, as Kantor’s earlier arguments have shown. This relative lack of implementation of economic theory in the case of Escom/Eskom and the ensuing echo chamber means stagnant analysis and policy suggestions as a result. In response to Escom’s flagging state, the government called for a Commission of Inquiry into the Supply of Electricity in the Republic of South Africa in 1984, colloquially referred to as the De Villiers Commission. Ces derniers sont susceptibles de déposer des cookies sur votre ordinateur selon les règles de gestion qu'ils ont définies et que nous vous invitons à consulter sur leur site. Electricity Act 42 of 1922.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1993, , 9. As such, only those who stand out as most relevant will be addressed.  Steyn, Eskom: Are we missing the opportunity to learn from history?  The importance of the mineral-energy complex (MEC) and the mismanagement of post-1994 South Africa has been explored in depth. Instead, they unsustainably expanded demand. Mises Institute.  Southall, “The ANC, black economic empowerment and state-owned enterprises: a recycling of history?” 215. Van Horen, Clive, Anton Eberhard, Hilton Trollip and Stephen Thorne. Because the price was unrealistic, it had to eventually rise – which shocked the economy.  In 1981, load-shedding occurred as Escom failed to effectively scale up production. This examination feeds into this paper’s study of Escom/Eskom’s monopoly, as will be explored in the analysis. 1985-2000. What the Commission suggests here is merely a marketing campaign aimed at convincing consumers not to use as much electricity. Prices aren’t just means to make individuals rich. 1923. They should have raised their prices so that richer consumers could subsidise expansion into rural areas. As James Jude Hentz (2000) argued, the NP’s privatisation strategy was not a case of desiring efficiency.  This further highlights the importance of cheap coal for Escom’s performance and may explain more recent difficulties in Escom’s functioning, as coal prices go up due to mismanagement and rising labour costs. Escom annual reports, during the late-half of the 80s, keep stating a desire to transform from a “bureaucracy” to a “meritocracy”. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1979. It was their obsession with cheap prices that led to them shrinking their business rather than raising prices. led to a dangerous state where Eskom chose to downscale rather than raise prices. This means there is no incentive to improve. Student accommodation and catering services as well as sport facilities are available on the campus. Luis Enrique Erro S/N, Unidad Profesional Adolfo López Mateos, Zacatenco, Delegación Gustavo A. Madero, C.P. The relevant primary case material reveals the policies and decision-making that underlie Escom/Eskom’s downfall.  Christie, “Better than van der Bijl dreamed: Escom 1948-75,” 157.  This paper contends that Escom did as good a job as it could with the restraints set out by the Electricity Act and with its role as a monopoly that could not gain proper information from price signals.  Its role as a prime regulator, with the power vested in it by the Electricity Act of 1922, gave it power over the industry. It was meant to run like a business, but was not allowed to raise its price. If the market wants it, they’ll pay for it. Leonard Gentle (2008) argues that electrification was shaped by a ‘mineral-energy complex’ (MEC).  Escom was not permitted to receive direct public funding, but was also not allowed to charge a market-rate for electricity, creating a dire combination.  This could have possibly been avoided in a free market, as competitors would have been able to pick up the slack and a floating electricity price would have sent the appropriate signals to herald good decisions. Fine, Ben. As such, monopolisation of the industry was inevitable.  The initial investigation found that Escom had been performing adequately up till the mid-70s. Yale University Press: London, 1994.  While Escom was founded in the service of a few mining magnates and their government allies, this paper is analysing Escom as an economic entity with an intended purpose.  The Commission also criticised Escom’s forecasted inability to meet demand, stating that forecasts worldwide since the 1973 Oil Crisis have been inaccurate. In 1923, the Electric Supply Commission (Escom) was founded humbly as an electricity regulator and subsidiary supplier – this is if a monopoly state entity can be considered humble at all.  Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1979), 106. Accessed October 10, 2017. https://mises.org/library/primer-austrian-economics.  This removed a vital incentive for the industry, which perhaps led to the VFPC’s eventual, somewhat willing, expropriation in 1948.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1995, , 4.  The Financial Mail maintained that, while looking good in the short term, this expansion was not effectively planned, as no long-term sufficiency was considered, such as renewable energy. Hazlitt, Henry. Austrian economics is based in the idea of praxeology, the idea that a priori principles can be used to justify further propositions and principles.  This was doubtless going to happen as a result of South Africa’s crime problem anyway, but steadier electrification may have contained and spread out the problem.  Kenny, “The rise and fall of Eskom – and how to fix it now,” 5.  Kenny seems convinced that the Eskom leadership and staff were competent pre-1994. The alternative to a free market is a planned economy, or heavily intervened one, where prices are distorted. 07738, Ciudad de México 2009-2013. Corruption and mismanagement is a given, but how did it come to pass? Analysis of this already insightful section established that Eskom fell due to its monopoly status, its dire pricing system, over electrification and government interference. Escom eventually became a full monopoly in 1948 when the National Party nationalised the electricity industry. Jim Peron (Auckland: Institute for Liberal Values, 2003), 59.  Menger put forward the argument that the prime factor in economic analysis was the human. After 1994, with RDP and the new government, Eskom set forth on a vast electrification program of rural areas. “That which is seen and that which is not seen.” In The Liberal Tide: From Tyranny to Liberty, edited by Jim Peron, 59-80. Both Southall and Kenny agree, however, that a departure from meritocracy caused the downfall of Eskom. Graduate engineers enjoy excellent employment opportunities in the private sector and in research organizations in France and abroad. So then, how did it fall? Rather, it is more of the same and a slow move towards Eskom’s eventual total failure in the late 00s.  Leonard Gentle, “Escom to Eskom: From racial Keynesian capitalism to neo-liberalism (1910-1994),” in Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid, ed. Without competition, an entity can retain control over an industry and direct it along their whims – raising prices to exorbitant levels or conducting business with inferior competence due to little to no incentive to perform admirably.  In 1988, however, good sales and lowered costs seemed to encourage Eskom from adopting sounder prices, despite it receiving permission to make a profit. What it could have at least done, which it did not, is price to cover costs. This paper seeks to avoid the exhausted explanations. Austrian economics provides a theoretical framework from which to examine Escom/Eskom.  As explained earlier, this is nonsense. Catalan, Jonathan M. Finegold. Temba A. Nolutshungu (Johannesburg: Free Market Foundation, 2011), 99. 4 (1988): 309. What Hentz suggests the National Party feared did occur, as the ANC implemented strategies such as the “National Democratic Revolution” and “Transformation”.  One can argue that it was too rapid, as the 1994 report states that non-paying customers are a huge threat to Eskom’s financial stability. As the main source of capital in the country, of course the MEC would wield political power. 5 (1993): 623-639. “The significance of the minerals-energy complex in the light of South African economic historiography.” Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa, no. Competitors may not have been interested in entering the market in the 90s, but now that prices are normalised, South Africa is ripe for a free market in electricity. As such, this paper will be examining Escom/Eskom under this lens, focusing on its founding in 1922, its troubled period during the mid-1980s and transition into democracy during the 1990s. Its pretense at playing private sector is costing it dearly, as it refuses to take advantage of its status. The Electricity Act’s restrictions, combined with Escom/Eskom’s refusal to raise prices (and their pride at lowering them!) Many historians, such as Fine (2008), Gentle (2008) and Freund (2010), among others, cite the MEC as the prime factor in Escom’s establishment and decision-making. Steyn, Grove.  By price-fixing, the supply drops due to lack of incentive to produce and sell, and demand increases as a result of artificially low prices.  Others, such as better forecasts, were not and Escom suffered by following their own inaccurate forecasts. 4 (1988): 301-309.  Leonard Reed’s short allegory of the creation of a pencil is an accessible and very illustrative explanation of the importance of prices in the production of all goods.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1993, , 10. It tried to act like a business all the way into the 90s, but was restrained from invoking proper market strategies, such as a floating price of electricity. Your email address will not be published. Electricity is an essential resource.  Kenny, “The rise and fall of Eskom – and how to fix it now,” 7.  Above all this, Escom/Eskom continued a dire habit of lowering prices and picking up the short-fall purely through cutting costs. Eskom thought that merely changing its rhetoric and wearing suits was sufficient to raising its competence. “Energy, environment and Urban Poverty in South Africa.” Energy Policy 21, no. Kenny, however, believes that Escom’s problem is purely present day governance. Without the ability to change its prices to meet the market, Escom was toothless. As such, this paper will be examining Escom/Eskom under this lens, focusing on its founding in 1922, its troubled period during the mid-1980s and transition into democracy during the 1990s.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1989 , 9.  The Austrian school is highly interlinked with libertarianism, so it was interesting to see another libertarian perspective on the issue.  Inherent in the act was, what this paper aims to show as one of the prime causes of Escom’s downfall, restrictions on Escom’s pricing system.  Jim Peron, “Two-Minute Reads on Economics,” in The Liberal Tide: From Tyranny to Liberty, ed. Escom/Eskom fed into the socialist calculation problem by sending incorrect signals to the economy.  What the annual report also reveals is a close relationship with railways and the MEC. White paper on the Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa.  While Escom did seem to perform, for the most part, effectively for much of its existence, we must not then think that something changed. The two arguments this paper is concerned with are the Austrian (and Classical) view on prices and the socialist calculation problem.  One can see how this is unsustainable: simply, a decreasing supply with increasing demand – with no ability to check that without political lobbying. With the information garnered from this paper, hopefully researchers and policy-makers will be able to push policies that address the issue inherent in all state enterprises and avoid the continuing downfall of our economy and industrial society.  It was to be self-funded, but able to borrow money from the public treasury. “Better than van der Bijl dreamed: Escom 1948-75.” In Electricity, Industry and Class in South Africa, 150-172. Being a monopoly prevented it from observing and adapting to competitors’ signals, as well as having any incentive to work effectively. Bastiat, Frédéric.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1987, , 9. No doubt, it once performed its function of supplying electricity admirably. It happened because the government interfered in the industry. They were artificially low and this prevented the economy from being able to adjust to real world pricing. “The ANC, black economic empowerment and state-owned enterprises: a recycling of history?” in State of the Nation: South Africa 2007, edited by Sakhela Buhlungu, John Daniel, Roger Southall & Jessica Lutchman, 201-225. This paper accomplishes this using Austrian economics. Eskom can’t blame the government for this. Better to be a self-aware monopoly than public sector playing dress up. Internationalization is an Interestingly, Andrew Kenny (2015) disagrees that Escom faced Afrikanerisation.  The NP understood this and why they did it, so privatisation was, in fact, undoing their own strategy. Now, this may have been necessary due to a need to uplift much of the people of South Africa, but Eskom could have done it while retaining economic sense. Escom/Eskom annual reports post the De Villiers Commission reveal an unfortunate propensity for uneconomic behaviour.  Going towards 2000, the annual reports reveal nothing more substantial. https://www.gsb.uct.ac.za/files/BusinessDay_newspaper_article.pdf. This was combined with the Apartheid government’s strategy to secure the commanding heights of the economy to ensure their political security.. Rather than take their new business-like persona seriously, Eskom continued to keep prices well below inflation, even stressing that they couldn’t handle this forever. Jim Peron (Auckland: Institute for Liberal Values, 2003), 98. , 5.  Escom, Annual report, Johannesburg: Eskom, 1995, , 4. From what started as a perceived model state institution, is now an underperforming parastatal facing corruption allegations, inefficiency and an inability to effectively perform its function. Marketing is a blatant waste of money. After 1994, the National Party’s attempts to rout were ended and the African National Congress (ANC) took charge.  It is crucial to keep this in mind while examining Escom.
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