Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa shared four plans to improve the Energy Availability Factor (EAF), noting that it is a key pillar of the Energy Action Plan.

Speaking with the Ministers in the Economic Cluster in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday, the minister said that the energy company, Eskom has 14 coal-fired power stations alongside "one nuclear and a number of peaking plants in the country."

He explained that coal power stations provide 80% of the electricity generation in the country, hence the "EAF is indispensable to the resolution of the energy crisis," SANews reported.

According to the minister, the current efficiency level of these plants is 53% and Eskom has approved a strategy to ensure that the performance is improved to 60%. Each percentage is equivalent to 450MW, so a seven percentage of increase will equal 2,800MW.

Minister Ramokgopa went on to share three plans that aim towards increasing the EAF.

"The first one is to ensure that we are able to exploit the dispensation that allows Eskom to be able to invest in the maintenance of the assets, including the repurposing of power plants," Ramokgopa said. "The second one is to make sure that we redesign the procurement dispensation in the context of the crisis."

He explained that Eskom is facing delays in getting the units installed again for the operation, after being removed.

"We are failing to return these units on time and that is account of the fact that Eskom has to go through a third party to procure parts," he continued. "So, what we are introducing is that Eskom must go directly to the Original Equipment Manufacturer."

The third plan includes improving the coal quality used at the power plants. The minister claimed that there is more than 1,000MW capacity in the power plants but couldn't achieve it due to poor coal quality.

"We are designing a dispensation that will allow Eskom to truck in good quality coal so that we are able to unlock that 1,000MW," he added.

Minister Ramokgopa said these technical interventions will help to improve EAF while the government is working via the National Energy Crisis Committee to fix the "rampant corruption" at the power utility.

Aside from these plans, the minister said that they will also ensure that the employees working at Eskom, get more incentives so that the company will be able to "retain the kind of skills that are required to bolster our efforts to improve the performance of these plants."

"This includes drawing in private sector expertise to work with management at the plant level," Ramokgopa concluded.

South Africa is going through a major load-shedding crisis for more than a decade. There have been cases of theft and sabotage at power stations that contributed to the load-shedding problem.

Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed 880 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to protect Eskom power stations across the country.

Electricity pylons are seen at the Kusile coal-fired power station in the Mpumalanga province