The country has been suffering from rolling blackouts for years
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered solutions to tackle a severe electricity crisis, as the country is facing an economic meltdown due to its chronic energy problems.
Africa’s most-industrialized nation has been suffering from rolling blackouts every day this year, as Eskom Holdings, the state company that supplies about 90% of the country’s electricity, fails to meet demand from its worn-out plants.
In an effort to address the unprecedented power shortages, Ramaphosa has appointed the country’s first electricity minister, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, and tasked him with reducing outages, improving Eskom’s plant performance and accelerating the procurement of additional generation capacity. Ramaphosa has stated that the new minister will “remain in office for as long as needed to resolve the energy crisis.”
The president has also declared a state of disaster, which will give the government the power to release resources to tackle the crisis while skirting bureaucratic procedures.
“It will enable us to accelerate energy projects and limit regulatory requirements while maintaining rigorous environmental protections, procurement principles and technical standards,” he stated in his February address to the nation.
Ramaphosa added that the state of disaster would enable the government to provide support for businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain. The measures will include the rollout of generators and solar panels to secure uninterrupted power supply.
Much of the country has been experiencing rolling blackouts for years. Eskom’s performance has deteriorated to the point that less than half of its capacity has been regularly available.
By late February, the company reported that out of a total of 54 gigawatts (GW) of installed power, 23 GW were offline and more than 19 GW were out of service due to unplanned breakdowns, and another 4.2 GW down for planned maintenance.