A deja-vu in South Africa’s electricity

A deja-vu in South Africa’s electricity

/ News & Interviews / Wednesday, 08 January 2020 05:27

South Africa's electricity utility Eskom resumed power outages, citing a “vulnerable” generating system, just weeks after implementing the severest rationing in recent times.

It had initially announced a 10-hour rationing to fix a broken conveyor belt at one of the major coal-fired plants, but it extended the outages by another day.

Known as “load shedding”, the cuts are implemented to prevent a collapse of the electricity grid.

Last year they were implemented in February, October and again in December when Eskom rationed 6,000 megawatts from the national power grid – plunging the country into its worst darkness in many years.

The latest power cuts also come the weekend before Eskom's newly appointed CEO is expected to report for duty. Andre de Ruyter took the reins at Eskom, 10 days ahead of his initially scheduled starting date of January 15, reportedly after cabinet intervention.

De Ruyter will oversee a plan to turn around the utility which has long struggled to produce enough power due to poorly maintained coal-fired power stations as well as decades of mismanagement and alleged corruption.

A conveyor belt failed at the new highly-touted Medupi plant which, along with the Kusile site, “were badly designed and badly constructed”, according to the Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Eskom has amassed 450 billion rand ($30 billion) in debt, which economists warn is a major threat to South Africa's overall economy.

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