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Ramaphosa warns of continued vulnerability in South Africa’s electricity system

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By Ragheema Mclean

President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that the possibility of load shedding cannot be ruled out despite recent improvements in the country’s electricity supply.

In his weekly newsletter, “From the Desk of the President,” published on Monday, Ramaphosa highlighted the ongoing challenges facing South Africa’s power system.

Last Friday marked 100 days since the country last experienced load shedding, the longest continuous period without outages since 2020. This has now extended to 104 days, with the national power utility, Eskom, optimistic about maintaining the streak.

Eskom has stated that the improvement in power stability is attributed to a significant turnaround in Eskom’s operations, including reducing breakdowns to under 12,000 megawatts and cutting spending on Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs).

However, President Ramaphosa urged caution, stating that the extended period without load shedding “is not a reason to relax.”

“Our electricity system remains vulnerable, and we cannot yet rule out a possibility of further load shedding,” he warned.

Ramokgopa said households in high-density areas may, however, continue to experience power cuts from time to time due to the implementation of load reduction.

Unlike load shedding, load reduction is implemented by municipalities when their systems are unable to supply in line with the demand.

Meanwhile, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa noted that households in high-density areas may continue to experience power cuts intermittently due to the implementation of load reduction.

Load reduction is implemented by municipalities when their systems cannot meet the demand.

“The performance has been the exception, exceeding our own expectations. I will show you the numbers; I think we are sitting on average about 12,000 MW. So, we are 2,000 MW better than what Eskom had predicted to be the best-case scenario,” Ramokgopa stated in a media briefing on Monday.

Speaking on VOC Breakfast, energy expert Chris Yelland said that despite these positive developments, the electricity system faces numerous issues, including load reduction, electricity theft, non-payment, and high levels of municipal debt.

“While manual rotating load shedding used to balance supply and demand has come to an end, the lights are still off in many parts of the country. Load shedding is not over yet; it has largely been replaced by load reduction at a local level in municipal areas where overloading is occurring.”

He emphasized that these are symptoms of a broader problem related to the financing and service delivery mandates of local governments and municipalities.

“The real issue is that national treasury, the presidency, and other institutions need to address the financing of municipalities to meet their constitutional obligations,” Yelland said.

“There is a need for proper engagement between government, businesses, labour, and civil society to develop effective solutions.”


Photo: Pexels

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