Power cuts are killing South Africa’s economy
Eskom’s unexpected escalation of load-shedding this week has confirmed that South Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery will be throttled by energy constraints, and that unless swift action is taken to support private electricity generation, crippling power cuts will continue for years.
In the meantime, a big shake-up is taking place at Eskom Generation, with the former CEO of the Eskom Generation Division shifted out of the way. The power station managers at Tutuka and Kendall power stations were also summarily dismissed yesterday pending disciplinary inquiries, and further interventions at Kriel and Duvha power stations are underway.
Lockdowns imposed in SA and elsewhere to curb the spread of COVID-19 tipped the domestic economy into its worst recession in nine decades, and business, industry and government have scrambled to get back up and running as restrictions were eased.
But with the pickup in demand for electricity, Eskom’s ageing infrastructure immediately took strain and multiple breakdowns forced the utility to resume load shedding in July to protect the national grid.
By the end of the month, the number of power reductions for the year had already exceeded the levels seen in 2019, which was the worst year on record.
Eskom insists that its new programme of stepped-up maintenance, which aims to address decades of neglect and mismanagement, will end load-shedding within 18 months. But it is increasingly clear that this target will not be met, given the scale of problems at its poorly performing coal-fired power stations.
Click on the link below for full report