President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured the public that the government was working to address the impact of load shedding on different sectors of society and the economy.
Ramaphosa told Parliament yesterday that the government’s primary focus was on reducing the severity and frequency of load shedding through a range of interventions that were being co-ordinated by the National Energy Crisis Committee.
The president was responding to an oral question by ANC MP Nokuzola Ndongeni, who wanted to know whether the government had considered any interventions to ensure that load shedding did not adversely derail and/or affect plans to provide services.
Ramaphosa said the government would ensure the continuity of basic services, especially for the poor, by focusing on commuter rail infrastructure, bulk water supply systems and facilities essential to the production of energy.
“Work is under way to ensure that critical facilities are excluded from load shedding where the network configuration allows for this, and where it is feasible to do so without increasing the risk of higher stages of load shedding,” Ramaphosa said.
“We will continue to explore ways of preventing the disruption of basic services and reducing the impact of load shedding, as we work to achieve energy security.
“Ultimately, the best way to address the impact of load shedding is to reduce its severity and frequency. This is why we continue to implement the Energy Action Plan to fix Eskom’s power stations, reduce demand and add new generation capacity as quickly as possible.”
This comes as Eskom ramped up its rotational load shedding to Stage 3 yesterday followed by Stage 4 today in spite of breakdowns reducing to 15 089MW of generating capacity while the generating capacity out of service for planned maintenance has increased to 7 147MW.
Eskom said a generating unit each at the Lethabo, Kendal and Kriel power stations were taken off-line for repairs while the delays in returning a unit to service at Hendrina, Medupi and two units at Tutuka power stations contributed to the capacity constraints.
The Cabinet also joined the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, in recognising that Eskom employees were key to solving the country’s energy challenges.
Ramokgopa is currently on a tour to visit all 14 power stations for first-hand insight of the challenges facing Eskom at power station level.
“The visits allowed the minister opportunities to engage with management, workers and unions at the coalface, with the aim to forge collaboration at power station level, as part of the programme to improve generation capacity and ultimately address electricity shortage,” the Cabinet said.
Meanwhile, the SA Reserve Bank yesterday lowered South Africa’s growth forecast for 2023 slightly to 0.2% from the 0.3% expected in January, as a result of extensive load shedding and logistical constraints.
Load shedding continues unabated, and food price inflation remains stubbornly high as persistently high levels of power cuts have added significant costs across the agriculture and food value chain.
Anchor Capital investment analyst Casey Delport said that as much as load shedding was eating away at South Africa’s growth, it was also inflationary.
“Looking ahead, naturally, any significant appreciation in the coming months would have the opposite effect – easing domestic prices for agricultural commodities. However, this effect could lessen if load shedding is maintained at lower levels,” Delport said.
“Unfortunately, the consensus is that load shedding will likely remain at relatively high levels for the foreseeable future, which will, in turn, be a critical factor in keeping local food prices higher for longer.”