After months of uncertainty over funding, South Africa’s state-owned power company Eskom has been given the preliminary nod to a US$805.6mn direct loan from the Export-Import Bank of the US (US Ex-Im).

The loan will go to the purchase of engineering and construction services from US firm Black and Veatch for the ongoing construction of the coal-fired Kusile power plant in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province.

When completed, the plant will consist of six 800MW units for a total capacity of 4,800MW.

Eskom must now wait until May 19, 2011 to see if the bank gives the final green light.

GTR reported back in January that Eskom had suspended work on the US$21bn power station in early 2010 due to lack of funds and rumours had even begun that the government was looking to scrap the plant altogether.

Eskom must wait until May 19, 2011 to see if the bank gives the final green light.”

The power company indicated that it was considering bringing in private investors, though this is something that was dropped.

Also, US Ex-Im has played up the measures that Eskom is taking to reduce the carbon impact of the new power plant, including the use of air pollution control devices called scrubbers.

This follows protests from environmental campaigners after the bank agreed to back India’s Reliance Energy for a coal-fired plant.

If the deal gets final approval, it will almost equal the bank’s entire direct loans in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2010, which reached US$812mn.