Public fears longer and more frequent power cuts
JOHANNESBURG – Fear has gripped South Africans that Eskom is preparing for even longer and frequent power cuts after cutting off 6 000 megawatts (MW) from the national grid on Monday night.
Eskom has cut off power in scheduled rotational manner after implementing between Stage 2 and Stage 4 load shedding in a bid to protect the country from a national blackout.
Eskom indicated that load shedding would probably be a reality for a further two years.
Eskom chief operations officer Jan Oberholzer said Eskom would always want to protect the integrity of its system when implementing power cuts to avoid a national blackout.
“I don’t believe we have to be in panic, and the reason being we have to reduce the demand of the country when it is required, because we need to protect the integrity of our electrical network at all times to avoid any difficulty on the system,” Oberholzer said.
“The question (whether) do we need to be concerned that we will go to Stage 8 – at this point in time we don’t foresee it. But at the time – and we believe we will not get there – should we need to implement Stage 8, it will mean that we need to reduce the demand of the country, at that specific point by 8 000MW, to protect the integrity of the system.”
There are also fears that South Africa could end 2019 in a recession, which could result in the country’s sovereign debt being downgraded to “junk” early next year.
Old Mutual Investment group chief economist Johann Els said it was too soon to determine the impact of load shedding on growth.
Els said that 2019 was already going to offer weak growth, but reforms could return confidence to the economy.
“Therefore, it is unlikely that Stage 4 or Stage 6 will continue every day for months to come. In addition, we are already in December, with many businesses scaling down. However, the impact from closed mines will be significant,” Els said.
“The far more important impact to note will come from shattered confidence. In my opinion, the impact on the fourth quarter and 2019 growth, as well as the question of another recession, are moot points.”