SA Chamber Board Member Eskom’s Naresh Singh speaks exclusively to our intrepid reporter Jeremy Kuper about what it’s like to be on the board and in the UK.
Jeremy Kuper: How many people are there in your office in the UK?
Naresh Singh: Presently we have a strength of 12, but our complement is 20.
Jeremy Kuper: So your role in the UK involves procurement and sourcing materials that Eskom will need in SA?
Naresh Singh: Yes. First of all, what we do here is that we look to see how suppliers and potential suppliers are able to deliver what we want. Whether they have the technological capability, the resource capability and whether they can meet our quality and specification requirements.
In addition to the management of supplier capability, technical compliance, quality management and equipment expediting for Eskom’s Capital Expansion program, the international offices looks after international investor and stakeholder relations.
The current and future capital requirements cannot be met by the South African capital markets alone and having a proactive relationship with lenders and investors is critical to Eskom’s future success.
The UK also offers one of the better platforms for exposure to technology development and our role is to ensure that Eskom benefits from a lot of the technology development work that is done here. Eskom first established an office here in 1939 but closed it down in 2001. When there was clarity regarding our participation in future build we felt it necessary to reopen the office in December 2008.
Jeremy Kuper: Can you tell me about the South African Chamber of Commerce, how that impacts on your business and why your involvement in the Chamber is important to your business?
Naresh Singh: I am a board member of the Chamber of Commerce and the objectives of the Chamber of Commerce align themselves well to Eskom’s overall objectives. The intention of the SACC is to enable business relations between the UK and South Africa.
Eskom is an important business for most companies wishing to locate to SA, and having Eskom on the board of the SACC provides a good introduction to UK business. The key issue is that our participation in the Chamber, gives an opportunity for British businesses to understand first-hand the energy situation in South Africa and what’s likely to happen in the future.
Jeremy Kuper: It also provides on a face-to-face level a good introduction with key players such as yourself?
Naresh Singh: Yes, exactly.