Load shedding in South Africa is inevitable: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that load shedding in South Africa is an inevitability due to a combination of factors.

Answering in an oral Q&A session in parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa said load shedding is always the last resort where demand for electricity is greater than what can be produced by the system. It is necessary to prevent the collapse of the power grid and the complete blackout, he said. 

He pointed to the age of Eskom’s power plants – many of which are several decades old – as one of the key issues behind power outages. Other issues which have made load shedding inevitable include mounting debt, a lack of capacity, and state capture, he said.

Ramaphosa said that Eskom now has to undertake the fundamental maintenance that is necessary to improve the reliability of the country’s electricity supply.

“As it continues with maintenance, load shedding will remain for some time to come.”

Not waiting for the inevitable 

While there is no sign of an end to power outages in South Africa, Ramaphosa said the government was not simply ‘waiting for the inevitable’, and is working hard in a number of ways to fix Eskom’s problem.

He noted that the power utility has implemented a generation recovery plan to improve the available generating capacity and minimise the risk of load shedding. The president added that Eskom is currently being restructured into three subsidiaries which will better help the government address individual issues and introduce reforms.

The three units will include:

  • Transmission
  • Generation
  • Distribution

Ramaphosa said that the legal separation of the transmission entity is planned for 31 December 2021, with the legal separation of generation and distribution units scheduled for next year.

The president said the restructuring of Eskom and the introduction of new regulations around private generation will transform the sector and enable greater competition and investment in new generation capacity. It will also remove the risk of relying on one entity that has the sole monopoly on power generation, he said.

“This reform will have a significant positive impact on economic growth and will improve the reliability, efficiency of electricity supply.

“Some municipalities are already getting ready to take advantage of what flows from this transformation process and have declared the clear intention to generate power for their residents.”

Read: South Africa set for years of power cuts as Eskom aims for profitability by 2026

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Load shedding in South Africa is inevitable: Ramaphosa