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Load-shedding cannot be ended overnight, says Cyril Ramaphosa

  • Jan 24, 2023
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Source: 
Daily Dispatch

President Cyril Ramaphosa believes although it may be easy to “blame our present woes on dysfunctionality” at Eskom, a combination of factors have contributed to the power crisis.

In his weekly newsletter, the president emphasised the importance of recalling the reasons for the situation, so that the government’s response tackles the causes of the crisis and not only the symptoms.

“As load-shedding continues to wreak havoc on businesses, households and communities, the last thing South Africans want to hear are excuses or unrealistic promises. The demands for an immediate end to power cuts are wholly understandable. Everyone is fed up,” Ramaphosa said.

However, the president said the country was in the grip of an energy crisis that has been years in the making.

“While we all desperately want to, we cannot end load-shedding overnight. We must be realistic about our challenges and what it is going to take to fix them.”

Lack of investment in new generating capacity, poor power plant maintenance, corruption and criminality, sabotage of infrastructure, rising municipal debt and a lack of suitable skills are factors listed by the president that have contributed to what he called “the perfect storm”.

“For many years critical maintenance was deferred and our power stations were run too hard to keep the lights on. As a country we are paying the price for these miscalculations.”

Ramaphosa said over the past few days, he has held consultative meetings with representatives of labour, business, traditional leaders, religious leaders and the community constituency. He also met with premiers, metro mayors and leaders of political parties.

“In each of those meetings I stressed the importance of staying the course instead of coming up with unsustainable short-term solutions. Six months ago I announced a national Energy Action Plan to improve the performance of Eskom’s power stations and add new generation capacity as quickly as possible,” he said.

The plan was the result of extensive consultation and was endorsed by energy experts as the “most realistic path towards ending load-shedding, despite many of the measures in the plan not being felt in the immediate term. That is why we are using every means at our disposal, calling on every resource we have, to get power onto the grid as a matter of extreme urgency,” Ramaphosa said.

Some measures employed by the government to mitigate the energy crisis include:

Improving Eskom’s fleet of coal-fired power stations and plant performance;

Identifying six power stations for a particular focus to receiver additional capacity;

Importing 300MW of capacity from neighbouring countries;

Purchasing surplus power from companies with generation capacity;

Enabling substantial investment by private power producers; and

Increasing the licensing threshold to 100MW.

In addition, Ramaphosa said the government has cut red tape and streamlined regulatory processes and reduced the time frames for environmental authorisations, registration of new projects and grid connection approvals.

The huge debt owed to Eskom by municipalities badly affected its ability to fund critical maintenance.

“We can all play our part by paying for the electricity we use.

“While we cannot end load-shedding immediately, what is certain is that if we work together with urgency to implement the Energy Action Plan, load-shedding will steadily become less severe.

“Through collective action, we will much sooner reach the point where we have enough power to end load-shedding altogether.”

LONG WAY TO GO: President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country is in the grip of an energy crisis that has been years in the making.Picture: GCIS

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