Investigated former Eskom boss to deploy solar-plus-storage in Zimbabwe

South African PV developers have faced the prospect of old Eskom PPAs being reopened to shore up the utility's battered finances (Credit: Globoteq)

A controversial figure in South Africa’s energy sector has been authorised to develop solar-plus-storage in Zimbabwe, only a year after a probe saw him suspended from Eskom.

On Saturday, Matshela Koko took to social media to hail the decision by Zimbabwe’s energy regulator ZERA to allow a firm he owns to deploy a major hybrid project in the country.

According to the ZERA notice Koko shared on Twitter, Matshela Energy will build, own and run a 100MW plant in Gwanda, a two-hour drive north from Zimbabwe’s border with South Africa.

The 25-year licence from ZERA, Koko explained, also covers the potential roll-out of a 240MWh battery energy storage system.

The new professional venture follows a convulse past two years for the engineer, who in 2017 and 2018 was suspended as acting group chief executive of South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom.

He had been appointed to the role in November 2016, with then Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown hailing his “wealth of experience” and “understanding” of the challenges faced by Eskom.

He would go on to face an internal probe only one year later, however. He was cleared by this first investigation but was then presented – local media claimed – with fresh complaints last February, including gross negligence and undeclared conflicts of interest around some of Eskom’s activities.

The allegations, various media claimed at the time, included failing to declare that one of Eskom’s contracts had been awarded to a firm employing his stepdaughter or, also allegedly, instructing Swiss group ABB to subcontract work to a firm that was a “conduit to his benefit”.

Koko has continued to defend his innocence in the intervening months, insisting today that reports on alleged bribes have been proved “false and defamatory”. One newspaper has apologised for stories about the claims, according to Koko.

Marking the Zimbabwe contract on Saturday, he accused South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba of “forcefully diverting” him from his “destiny”.

“Little did they know they were pushing me to greater heights. Here is it,” he added.

The Koko investigation of 2018 has added to Eskom’s controversies of recent years. In February 2019, renewable bodies were dismayed after reports that old PPAs may be reopened to bolster the finances of the technically insolvent utility group.

Read Next

PV Tech Premium
August 4, 2022
PV Tech Premium unpicks South Africa's recently unveiled policy measures aimed at tackling the country's energy crisis and boosting renewables deployment.
July 27, 2022
Independent power producer (IPP) Scatec has ramped up project development activity after witnessing its earnings fall by nearly 14% year-on-year.
July 26, 2022
South Africa's government has unveiled a raft of measures to bolster renewables deployment in the country as it responds to is energy crisis.
July 19, 2022
A round-up of project-related news from the world of solar-storage hybrid projects, featuring news from South Africa, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
July 15, 2022
Solar and wind trade bodies have united to organise the Africa Renewables Investment Summit to drive renewable energy financing in the continent.
June 24, 2022
Investors Harith General Partners and African power provider Anergi Group have partnered to establish the Pan-African Renewable Energy Fund (PAREF) to accelerate renewable energy deployment across Africa and close the continent’s investment gap.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 27, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
On-Demand Webinars, Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event
Upcoming Webinars
October 18, 2022
10am (EDT) / 4pm (CEST)