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Ramaphosa on load shedding: Cabinet to discuss extra generation capacity

He was briefing reporters on Wednesday following a meeting with the Eskom management and board.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing a media briefing  at Megawatt Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said Cabinet would discuss availing additional generation capacity in the light of Eskom’s continued challenges with sustainable power provision.

He was briefing reporters on Wednesday following a meeting with the Eskom management and board.

The president cut short his trip to Egypt this week after Eskom implemented stage 6 load shedding.

Just hours following Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s undertaking that he will move to develop more electricity generation capacity, Ramaphosa announced the issue would come before Cabinet when it meets.

“Right now, a clear proposal has been put on the table and there are a number of applications from the private sector who have been saying they want to self-generate and in the end have been saying they want to sell whatever they didn’t use to the grid.”

Ramaphosa was detailing some of the interventions Eskom and government would undertake to stabilise the provision of electricity after the country was left in the dark in recent weeks as Eskom implemented the much-dreaded load shedding.

He has called on the Eskom management to be more proactive in tackling the challenge while also announcing that all leave will be cancelled at the power utility until the crisis is brought under control.

POWER CUTS SET TO CONTINUE AS SOME ESKOM UNITS STILL DOWN

Rolling blackouts are continuing 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 Ramaphosa, who cut short a trip to Egypt to deal with the crisis, said on Wednesday Eskom would 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 am to 11 pm, Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said.

“While good progress has been made with additional units being returned to service, stage 2 load shedding 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.

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