In September 2022, the network operator announced its plans to launch a pilot programme to source all its electricity from renewable independent power producers (IPPs). MyBroadband asked Vodacom about how the project was progressing.

“While we have made significant progress on this project, we are still in ongoing discussions with Eskom and expect to reach an agreement soon,” a Vodacom spokesperson said. When Vodacom first confirmed the project, it said it was in the last phase of the commercial processes to secure power purchase agreements with independent power producers.

However, the network operator has now explained it cannot decide on or select IPPs until its agreement with Eskom is finalised.

“Vodacom has not experienced any challenges to procure renewable electricity from independent power producers (IPPs) thus far, however, the decision and selection of IPP(s) can only commence once the agreement with Eskom has been finalised,” the spokesperson said.

According to Vodacom, the pilot project’s success would reduce its reliance on Eskom-generated electricity and provide a blueprint for other South African corporates to replicate. Vodacom said this would result in more companies reducing their reliance on the national power grid, which would help solve South Africa’s energy crisis.

While the generation of Vodacom’s power would be independent of Eskom, the power utility will still provide transmission infrastructure and services.

Vodacom’s towers won’t be exempt from load-shedding, but the network operator’s demand for Eskom power and carbon footprint would be reduced or removed. Therefore, it will still need backup power to fight load-shedding at its towers — a significant cost for the network operator.

According to Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub, the key to solving South Africa’s electricity crisis lies with private sector participation. “This is a monumental move forward to assist Eskom and South Africa to solve the energy crisis, which proves our greatest threat to an economic recovery,” he said.

“It is our belief that the energy crisis in South Africa can be solved with the assistance of private sector participation and enablement — this solution does just that, and can be fast-tracked and scaled to address the shortfall of generation capacity within two years.”

Joosub added that Vodacom’s partnership with Eskom will help it meet its commitment to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.