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Economists warn load shedding could cut GDP

The IMF cut its predictions for economic growth for South Africa again overnight.

FILE: The IMF cut its predictions for economic growth for South Africa again overnight. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns a prolonged period of load shedding could have a big impact on South Africa's economy, local economists are warning power cuts could cut Gross Domestic Product growth by one percentage point.

The IMF cut its predictions for economic growth for South Africa again overnight.

It now says it expects the economy to grow by 2.1 percent this year.

Nedbank economist Nikky Wiemar says it's very difficult to know how much money the economy may lose in total because of load shedding.

The power utility says if it stops importing electricity from neighbouring Namibia and Mozambique it will not be able to continue maintenance or avoid load shedding.

It currently imports 200 megawatts from Namibia and 1,500 megawatts from Mozambique.

Eskom said it's paying a standard tariff for this extra electricity which is meant to fill the gap created by old systems going offline.

The power utility is expecting a R20 billion bailout from the government to maintain operational stability.

Eskom also says it needs to raise tariffs in order to recover some of its operating costs.

Consumers will be hit with a 12.69 percent electricity tariff hike in April.

At the same time, Eskom has also warned of rolling blackouts to relieve pressure on the national electricity grid.

The power utility says load shedding could continue until at least April.