SA power problems persist

Energy experts said due to constraint generation capacity of the monopoly power utility Eskom and delay in construction of new power stations, power shortage will persist in South Africa in the foreseeable future.

Eskom supplies neighboring countries Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and occasionally Botswana.

The utility generates approximately 95 percent of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45 percent of the electricity used in Africa.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said recently the country’s “power system remains vulnerable” and urged South Africans to “pull together over the next few months and use electricity sparingly at all times.”

South African energy expert Chris Yelland said in an interview with Xinhua that the week would be “testing” and any further generation failures could be disastrous.

Analysts said South Africa’s electricity supply problems, which are inhibiting economic growth and disrupting daily lives, can be traced to a government decision in the 1990s not to build more power stations.

Eskom has also been dogged by a maintenance backlog, skills shortages and financial difficulties.

In addition, an ambitious, multi-billion dollars building program, which belatedly began in 2007, is behind schedule and over-budget, prompting analysts such as Yelland to predict an unstable power supply for up to four years.