May 30, 2023

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South Africa is weakened by new severe power cuts

#In other countries : South Africa, the continent’s leading industrial powerhouse, with nearly 60 million people, has once again been hit by severe power cuts, caused by aging failures and poorly maintained installations, Eskom said on Sunday.

Apologizing for the radical new cuts at a press conference, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter announced “heavy load shedding this week”.

On a scale of eight possible severity levels, the country has reached critical stage six. This means, for South Africans and businesses, many hours of many cuts every day.

Following the announcement, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his return to South Africa. After a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday, the head of state arrived in London on Sunday.

He will return to South Africa after attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, his spokesman told AFP. Confirming that the president will not go to the UN General Assembly in New York next week, he said he will “return to take care of the burden-shedding Stage 6”.

>>> Read More: South Africa. Electricity: Deep governance crisis at Eskom

This sixth level was already reached in June, in a country then in the middle of the southern winter, with an increase in energy consumption and high pressure on production. The rise in temperature from September with the arrival of spring usually leads to a drop in consumption, especially by stopping the use of heating mechanisms. Eskom normally uses this period to shut down generating units for maintenance.

But the high number of breakdowns in installations, 45 in seven days, led to a dramatic drop in power generation.

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“Phase 6 load shedding will remain in place until sufficient generating units are operational again,” Eskom Chief Operating Officer John Oberholzer said.

After years of mismanagement and corruption, the public utility is unable to produce enough energy for the country, which continues to be plunged into darkness, with occasional demonstrations against the deterioration of public services.

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De Ruyter urged South Africans to use electricity sparingly, calling on them to turn off lights in offices at night and avoid running pool pumps and water heaters during peak hours.

He said that the demand can be met if everyone does their part.

Developing efficient large-scale manufacturing capacity “will take time,” the CEO continued, adding that the possibility of installing permanent load-shedding windows was explored but ultimately rejected.

South Africa gets 80% of its electricity from coal, which produces heavy pollution condemned by environmentalists. The country received €7.7 billion for its energy transition at COP26 in Glasgow last year.