State power utility Eskom is pressing on with a contentious makeover, opting to push through a rebranding exercise despite public dissatisfaction and the ongoing load shedding debacle that has left the nation in the dark and the company in the red.
Eskom’s Bold Rebranding Amid Turmoil
In a move that has stirred debate, Eskom presented its financial distress alongside an unexpected brand refresh initiative to Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises. The company’s bold step towards a new logo and corporate identity comes as it faces a staggering R24 billion net loss, according to its latest annual report.
Eskom’s pursuit of a fresh image, highlighted by an October tender call, has seen a wave of submissions that are currently under scrutiny, with the final cost still under wraps. Jainthree Sankar, Eskom’s chief procurement officer, remarked to MPs, “The tender is not cancelled. We cannot give you the budget amount at this stage because there is an evaluation of the responses that we have received.”
Unbundling Ushers in New Identity
The utility’s strategic rebrand aligns with the Department of Public Enterprises’ directive to split Eskom into separate transmission, generation, and distribution entities, each requiring distinct branding. “In light of the DPE road map for the reformed electricity supply, we are dealing with the legal separation of transmission, generation, and distribution, and this remains a key priority,” Sankar explained.
In-House Capabilities Tapped for Transition
Sankar disclosed that Eskom’s transmission business is on the cusp of becoming an independent entity by March 2024, with immediate attention on its branding. She assured that Eskom’s in-house resources would contribute significantly to the process, emphasizing financial prudence.
Procurement Plans and DA Pushback
Despite Eskom’s commitment to a cost-effective process, the Democratic Alliance has slammed the rebranding as an “unnecessary vanity project,” insisting it detracts from the critical issues of load shedding and escalating energy costs. DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia has called for the immediate cancellation of the tender, yet Eskom remains steadfast in its branding journey.
As the nation grapples with blackouts and Eskom’s financial woes, the decision to prioritize a new corporate image continues to spark heated discussions, with many questioning the timing and necessity of such an undertaking in the face of more pressing operational challenges.