South Africa: South Africa faces unprecedented power cuts

Sep 26, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

South Africa is reportedly facing unprecedented levels of nationwide power blackouts. These blackouts come as a result of state-owned power utility Eskom, which produces 95% of the country’s electricity, implementing Stage 6 load shedding, which means that homes and businesses go without electricity for over ten hours a day. Last Sunday, it cut 6,000 megawatts from the national grid after generation units tripled at the Kusile and Kriel power stations. This is estimated to be enough energy to power nearly four million homes. According to reports, these blackouts are also affecting other government services, including water supplies. While the company has reduced the level down to Stage 5, this still requires South Africans to go without power for up to eight hours a day, something which is crippling the country’s economy. 

Reflecting on the impact of the current round of load shedding, the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) has outlined that it’s likely to have a similar impact on the nation’s GDP in the third quarter as it did in the second quarter, which saw the country’s gross domestic product decrease by 0.7%: “The intensity of the current power cuts threatens the GDP recovery from the 0.7% q-o-q contraction experienced in 2022 Q2. It also serves as another reminder of the urgency to fast-track increased private sector power generation, including securing funding for this,” said the BER.

Jannie Rossouw, an economist at Johannesburg’s University of The Witwatersrand, commented: “It is very difficult to understand what will happen next. Will load-shedding stages decline over time going forward, will we go back to Stage 6, or might we even move beyond Stage 6 in months to come? It is really just about impossible for the general public and businesses in South Africa to plan if Eskom cannot plan its capacity.”

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