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South Africa's Eskom appoints top public servant as CEO

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Tshediso Matona was named on Wednesday as chief executive of South African state-run power utility Eskom [ESCJ.UL], taking on a crucial role in Africa's most advanced economy. Matona, a civil servant who has been director general at the Department of Public Enterprises, takes the helm as Eskom, which provides virtually all of South Africa's power, scrambles to bring new stations on line and faces an uphill struggle to fund its expansion programme. “Clearly, there has to be a strategic change of direction for Eskom to work more efficiently and this what I trust Tshediso Matona will be taking us forward to do,” Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown told a media briefing. Matona has been closely involved with government policy and oversight of Eskom for the past three years in his role as the top civil servant at the department of public enterprises. Prior to that he spent five years as director general at the department of trade and industry. Eskom, in a race to keep the lights burning as demand threatens to outstrip capacity, was in March forced to impose rolling blackouts for the first time in six years to prevent the national grid from collapsing. [ID:nL6N0M305Z] The utility said in July it expects a revenue shortfall of up to 225 billion rand ($21 billion) for the next four years, so to help bridge the gap it has been given permission to raise prices next year above the 8 percent previously granted - a move that will likely fan inflation which is running at 6.3 percent. (1 US dollar = 10.6819 South African rand)

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