Country’s Power Grid Faces Collapse

Country's Power Grid Suddenly Collapses

( – South Africa is in crisis as its power grid collapses. The state-owned power company is imposing rolling blackouts, but the grid is in dire straits and it’s hammering the country’s economy. Now, the government has declared a disaster — but they’ve had years to fix the problems, they haven’t done it so far, and they don’t seem to have any new ideas.

On February 9, South Africa’s National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) declared a National State of Disaster, as the country’s power grid reaches the critical stage of a slow-motion collapse that’s been going on for well over a decade. The state power company, Eskom, supplies around 90% of the country’s electricity — and it doesn’t have the capacity to do it. Eskom has been running rolling blackouts for 16 years, and they’re now lasting for up to 12 hours a day, but the grid is still struggling to supply enough electricity.

According to the Post Millennial, the NDMC says the state of disaster will “prevent the possible progression to a total blackout from occurring,” but the grid has been deteriorating for years and the ANC government has done nothing to fix it. Eskom generates 80% of its electricity from coal, but power plants haven’t been maintained or upgraded in years. Several have broken down, and last year, the World Bank paid South Africa almost half a billion dollars to close the largest remaining one and build renewable generators to replace it.

The rolling blackouts are a disaster for South Africa’s economy. Although the country has 50% unemployment, it’s still the third largest economy in Africa, and a lot of that is made up of small businesses — which are suffering badly from the power cuts. Business owners are complaining bitterly about the blackouts, which are losing them business every day. Speaking with NPR, President Cyril Ramaphosa says solving the energy crisis is now “a primary objective and a primary task,” but Eskom warned in 1997 that if the government didn’t invest in more capacity, it would need to start rolling blackouts in 2007.

That’s exactly what happened, but the ANC has spent 26 years doing nothing. And now, it seems to be too late.

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