Posted on

South African power cuts set to continue as some Eskom units still down

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Rolling blackouts in South Africa are set to continue on Thursday as some generating units are still down, after a week of heavy rains across parts of the country caused flooding, aggravating problems at struggling power firm Eskom.

On Monday Eskom announced unprecedented levels of blackouts, which have disrupted the supply of electricity to businesses and households across South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who cut short a trip to Egypt to deal with the crisis, said on Wednesday Eskom will work to stabilise the power grid by the end of March.

In addition to heavy rain, he also blamed suspected sabotage at power stations, which contributed 2,000 megawatts (MW) of lost capacity during the past week’s outages and said that needed to be investigated.

The utility will cut up to 2,000 MW of power from the national grid on a rotational basis from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m, Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said.

“While good progress has been made with additional units being returned to service, stage 2 loadshedding will be implemented…as breakdowns are still above 9,500 MW,” the utility said in a statement.

The state-owned utility produces more than 90% of South Africa’s power but has struggled to keep up with demand, leading to nationwide power cuts that have deterred investment and caused a major headache for Ramaphosa, who came to power nearly two years ago vowing to reverse years of mismanagement and economic stagnation. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Kim Coghill)