African organisations condemn World Bank funding for Eskom
Many NGOs have expressed alarm at the prospect of World Bank financing for a major new coal-fired power station in South Africa. Last week the Bank urged its most powerful member, the US, not to reject the proposed loan. Critics claim that, if the project goes ahead, it would unequivocally consolidate South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom as the continent’s leading producer of greenhouse gases. In February, more than two hundred South African and other African organisations issued a statement condemning the loan.
Patrick Bond, director of the Centre for Civil Society in Durban, links the “sweetheart” deals, already signed between Eskom and the mining companies BHP Billiton and Anglo American, to increased impoverishment of ordinary citizens. He writes: “For communities near the coalfields (40 new mines are requested by Eskom to supply its new generators) and coal-fired stations, the externalised costs imposed by Eskom are extremely high, including the complete degradation of water sources, air pollution, a frightening rise in mercury associated with coal and other health burdens”.