Eskom Increases Loadshedding After Cyclone Hits Mozambique Imports

JOHANNESBURG – South African state utility Eskom stepped up rolling blackouts (aka the dreaded load-shedding!) over the weekend as it lost 900 megawatts of electricity imports from neighbouring Mozambique, which was hit this week by a cyclone.

A woman carries firewood on her head as she walks below Eskom’s elecricity pylons in Soweto, South Africa, August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Eskom, which generates nearly all of the power for South Africa, said that it had cut 4,000 megawatts, double the 2,000 MW it had said would be cut over the weekend after repeated faults at its coal-fired power stations.

The situation worsened on Saturday after a fall in electricity exports from Mozambique, which is cleaning up after a powerful cyclone knocked out communications and electricity pylons on Thursday.

Eskom’s problems are a challenge for President Cyril Ramaphosa as they are holding back efforts to haul the economy out of a slump before a national election in May.

Minister Pravin Gordhan asked for South Africans’ patience and co-operation (turn geysers and lights off) on Sunday as the government works to clean up state corruption and get Eskom back on track. (Watch below.)

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said “the massive threat #EskomLoadshedding poses to our economy and the stability of our country cannot be overstated.”

He added that “the sad reality is that the very same people who inflicted this energy crisis on us were once again given prominent positions on the #ANCList.”

Ramaphosa’s government has promised to inject R23 billion ($1.6 billion) a year over the next three years to shore up Eskom’s finances. It has also asked a team of experts to come up with a plan within a month to fix Eskom’s creaking coal plants.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Alexander Smith)


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