End to power cuts in South Africa not yet known – Minister

South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa
South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, who oversees power utility, Eskom, said on Tuesday he could not say when rolling blackouts would end.

Mr Gordhan told journalists in Johannesburg that around 17,000 megawatts of Eskom’s installed capacity of 45,000 megawatts was unavailable.

Eskom said on Monday it would implement more blackouts on March 18 and March 19 as it struggled with capacity shortages.

The company added that the blackouts would be at a level which calls for 4,000 megawatts to be cut from the national grid on a rotational basis.

Eskom supplies more than 90 per cent of the power in South Africa but has suffered repeated faults at its coal-fired power station fleet, low water levels at hydro-power plants and diesel shortages.

The situation worsened on March 16 after Eskom lost its usual electricity imports from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric system in Mozambique, which contributes more than 1,000 megawatts to the South African grid.

Mozambique was hit by a powerful cyclone which knocked out communications and electricity pylons last week.

Eskom, which is currently labouring under a 420 billion rand ($29 billion) debt, resorted to power cut last Thursday.


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