by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa sees light at the end of the tunnel as the country grapples with severe power outages.
His sentiments come amid load shedding as the state-owned Eskom battles to cope with demand for electricity.
This adds to the country’s economic woes.
“Load shedding costs our economy dearly,” the president conceded.
“It causes great frustration among all South Africans and creates hardship for households and businesses,” Ramaphosa said.
He explained the crisis, saying South Africa’s fleet of coal-fired power stations were old and their performance is deteriorating.
Ramaphosa conceded that despite warnings from energy experts about impending energy shortages nearly two decades ago, there was a delay in commissioning new generation capacity.
Also, for years, the existing power stations were not maintained properly.
Ramaphosa said state capture worsened the situation. State capture refers to corruption that bedeviled South Africa during the presidency of Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa’s predecessor.
“Billions of Rands were diverted from critical operational requirements at Eskom into private pockets,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said the load shedding was thus the result of policy missteps and the impact of state capture.
“This is the situation that we have confronted since the start of this administration and that we are all working to fix,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the introduction of a competitive electricity market would provide new investment in generation capacity and will be a key driver of economic growth.
The reform process begun with the establishment of a separate transmission subsidiary by Eskom in December 2021.
The unbundling is to be completed by December 2022.
Eskom is forging ahead with its maintenance programme and with correcting design defects in its plants at Medupi and Kusile.
Eskom is also bringing in additional skills to assist with maintenance, including former employees and experienced plant managers.
Ramaphosa noted it was difficult and unacceptable for South Africans to endure load-shedding.
“But we are doing everything in our means to ensure that, like state capture, it soon becomes a thing of the past,” Ramaphosa said.
– CAJ News