Matshela Koko Eskom board

Matshela Koko will appear in court on Thursday – Photo by Gallo Images / Mail & Guardian / Madelene Cronjé

Guess who’s back? Ex-Eskom CEO Matshela Koko vows to bring power to Zimbabwe

The engineer is leading a solar power project in Zimbabwe. Matshela Koko is back in business, but is he the man to bring electricity back to the country?

Matshela Koko Eskom board

Matshela Koko will appear in court on Thursday – Photo by Gallo Images / Mail & Guardian / Madelene Cronjé

One of the Eskom officials who operated during the Jacob Zuma era has resurfaced with a plan to electrify Zimbabwe once more. Matshela Koko, a former CEO of the utility firm, is bringing the 100MW Solar PV Project to our neighbours in the north, in a bid to restore their crippled energy grid.

Matshela Koko’s Zimbabwe energy project

Throughout the winter, rolling blackouts and a crumbling electricity system have plunged millions of Zimbabweans into the dark. The country, battling with rising food costs and soaring petrol prices, was also battered by multiple tropical cyclones in 2019. They certainly need help, and Koko believes he’s the man to deliver it.

Matshela Koko is looking to rebuild his reputation in the industry after his name was circulated in a whirlwind of state capture accusations. He was grilled for lying to Parliament about payments to McKinsey and Trillian and sharing sensitive SOE details with a Gupta associate at the Eskom Inquiry. An investigation into his conduct is ongoing.

Meet the team:

So, just who are the experts trying to revive Zimbabwe’s electrical fortunes?

  • Matshela Koko: Known for his time at Eskom and 30 years in the energy industry.
  • Tien Nguyen: CEO of Quantum Energy Storage.
  • Leo Casey: Former programme reviewer for the US Department of Energy.
  • Siyuan Xin: Senior Engineer of Google X
  • Rashaan Arscott: Technical lead transaction advisor to the Department of Energy.

Zimbabwe turns to former Eskom man

As reported in Zimbabwe, the former Eskom boss will raise private funding for the power plant and retain ownership. Koko’s vision for a 100MW solar build has been approved by the government, where it will be constructed in Gwanda (Matabeleland South). Power cuts of up to 15 hours a day remain in place across the border.

According to a statement issued by Matshela Koko on Wednesday, the group are already raring to go and the project will be underway in the next few weeks. He also confirmed the plant would be operational “within a year”:

“The team will be on-site by August and the first delivery of power to the national grid will come within 12 months. Any surplus energy will be stored, to be used when resources are low and electricity is in demand. We have ring-fenced $100 000 per annum, for the next 20 years, to put towards research and innovation in the industry.”